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I have to work for a few weeks on a Windows 7 machine and I need to use it to host developer virtual machine containing SharePoint 2013 and Visual Studio 2012.

Since the virtual machine serves a lot for experimentation, it is crucial to have some form of snapshots.

Since there is no Hyper-V on Windows 7, I considered two options:

  1. VMWare Player. I used it for a week and found it quite terrible. Performance looks poor (although, I don't have benchmarks to support that), there are a lot of BSODs, and, more importantly, there are no support for snapshots. The only way to keep successive states of a machine is to manually copy the files, which takes approximately an hour—too long given how often do I need to do snapshots.

  2. Windows Virtual PC—the predecessor of Hyper-V. It looks like a basic form of pseudo-snapshots is possible, but there are other limitations I have yet to discover, like the maximum of 4 GB of RAM for the virtual machine¹.

Is there a free hypervisor for Windows 7 which:

  • Doesn't have the limitations of Windows Virtual PC (i.e. is able to be used for a virtual machine which has SharePoint 2013 on it),
  • Has better quality compared to VMWare/VMWare Player (no BSODs once per hour, better performance, etc.),
  • Supports snapshots (even pseudo-snapshots like Windows Virtual PC)?

¹ Minimum system requirements for the most basic SharePoint 2013 installation is 8 GB. For developer's machine, it is recommended to use 16 to 24 GB of RAM.

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I can suggest you try VirtualBox. I've used it for personal purposes for years without much trouble at all, while not for Sharepoint at least it may merit a try.

  • Open source (GPLv2)
  • Multiplatform (at least supports Windows, Linux and Mac hosts)
  • Does support snapshots natively.
  • Also other features like many virtual disk formats, hardware virtualization for guests, USB support, networking, sound and fine control of hardware resources available.

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