A few points on XAMPP:
- XAMMP does all the heavy work installing and configuring Apache, MySQL, PHP, and Perl for you, and includes some extra tools to make it easier to manage.
- XAMPP installs the Apache web server, which listens for requests on port 80. This is the default port used by most web servers, including Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS). If you have IIS enabled, you should turn it off to prevent conflicts. Only one web service can use port 80.
- If you decide that XAMPP isn't needed any more just delete the XAMPP directory and it's completely removed from your system.
I haven't found an easier way to setup a PHP testing environment for free. This guide also includes instructions for enabling CURL in XAMPP:
How to set up a local testing server for Dreamweaver
Keep in mind that a local testing server is just that. It does not make it any easier to install applications on a remote server. You have to meet the same requirements on the remote server to run it successfully.