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If you want to make the switch from Windows to Debian, there are a few different options you can take to help make it a comfortable transition.

Switch to cross platform applications

Use a Live Bootable CD / USB pendrive

Both Windows and Debian on Your computer

More information on installation and dual-boot is available at Windows loader page (DebianInstaller/Loader) and Wikipedia.

Use a second computer to run Debian

With a second computer you can format and start afresh; no dual booting. This gives you the security that you aren't messing anything up whilst you learn. A second computer is more appropriate for server development because the server can run all the time. It isn't up and down every time you use Windows. You can also control it and test from the Windows machine.

If you have a second computer, you can use remote control software, such as VNC to access the desktop of one computer from another. An alternative is to share the monitor, keyboard and mouse with a KVM switch which may be easier than finding room for a second set on your desk. With a KVM switch you can switch between computers by just pressing a few keys on the keyboard. It will be like you just got up and changed chairs to sit in front of the other computer. A two port KVM switch runs from $10US to $60US. Models with more ports are also available.
If you are trying out desktop Debian, be fair in the comparison, should you use a vastly inferior machine. You probably won't overload a test server noticeably.

See also