Create SharePoint 2013 development environments quickly on Azure

In this blog post we will walk you through creating a SharePoint 2013 development environment on Windows Azure using the Visual Studio Ultimate 2013 RC image.

Have you ever been in a situation where you need to create a SharePoint 2013 development environment quickly? Are you still working on SharePoint Solutions or are you building apps for SharePoint and you need a machine with SharePoint 2013 and Visual Studio 2013 on it? Do you just want to try out SharePoint 2013 development?

If you answered ‘yes’ to one or all of the questions mentioned above, and you have an MSDN subscription, we have good news for you.

We have released an Azure developer image that comes with SharePoint 2013 and Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate RC pre-installed. The image also contains scripts to provision and configure SharePoint 2013 with or without an Active directory running on a different machine.

Be aware that, if you don’t have an Azure subscription, you can activate your Azure benefit that comes with your MSDN subscription. As part of your subscription, you have free Windows Azure credits - up to US$150 per month! You can use them to build SharePoint development & test environments on demand with virtual machines and more. See Windows Azure Benefit for MSDN Subscribers for more information. In addition we have optimized Windows Azure billing—meaning you only pay for the virtual machines as long as you are working on them. When you are finished working, just shut down the virtual machine and you will no longer be billed for it.

Let’s have a brief look at the image and how to provision it. There are two ways to provision a virtual machine of that image. You can either use the portal or use PowerShell.

Use the Windows Azure management portal:

To create a new virtual machine from the Azure Management Portal, go to and follow the steps below:

  1. Sign in to the Windows Azure Portal
  2. Choose the plus sign (+) at the bottom of the Portal page
  3. Choose Compute>Virtual Machine>From Gallery
  4. Scroll down the image list and choose Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate RC and choose the arrow on the lower right corner

Figure 1. Virtual Machine image selection dialog boxFigure 1. Virtual Machine image selection dialog box

The virtual machine creation wizard guides you through the process. We recommend an X-Large VM Size for SharePoint development.

The virtual machine provisioning takes about 5-10 minutes. Once the machine has been provisioned you can use remote desktop to connect to the machine. The next step is to provision SharePoint 2013. As mentioned the image is pre-loaded with software and scripts. The configuration scripts and software can be accessed by choosing the “Configure Developer Desktop” shortcut icon on your desktop. The scripts folder contains two scripts relevant for SharePoint 2013 provisioning and configuration and allow you to provision SharePoint as Stand Alone or SharePoint with Active Directory (the script assumes that the Active Directory is hosted on another Virtual Machine).

Both scripts will configure a basic SharePoint environment, meaning they create a Central Administration site and a Web Application with a Root Site collection. The Figure 2 shows the provisioned virtual machine with SharePoint Central Administration and sign in screen to use Visual Studio for the first time.

Figure 2. Visual Studio sign inFigure 2. Visual Studio sign in

Please see Visual Studio Ultimate 2013 RC Gallery image for MSDN subscribers for a detailed walkthrough of how to provision and configure a virtual machine for SharePoint development as well as documentation for the included PowerShell scripts.

Use Windows PowerShell:

As mentioned in the beginning we also released scripts that allow you to provision a SharePoint 2013 development environment using PowerShell. In addition, the scripts also allow you to provision a Windows Server 2012 virtual machine with an Active Directory and join SharePoint to that domain. This opens up the full scale of SharePoint development. Full documentation for the scripts can be found here: All the scripts can be downloaded from here:

Once your development environment is set up you can even access your on-premises source control from Visual Studio on the virtual machine by using an Azure Point to Site connection. Be aware that when setting up an Azure point to site connection, you must first provision the virtual machine into a virtual network. For more information about Azure Point to site connections see


Boris Scholl

Sr. Program Manager, Cloud Platform Tools