(UPDATED-03.25.09) - I have started using WAMP. Magento has a nice install guide on their wiki. The guide covers both XAMPP and WAMP but I've been having problems getting v1.2 or newer of Magento to work with XAMPP. Thus the switch to WAMP. So far I am liking WAMP better.
XAMPP is an easy to install LAMP environment used for testing. Magento is an open source ecommerce package. You should already have XAMPP installed and a copy of Magento. Start Apache and MySql if not already running.
Enable curl in XAMPP
1) Locate the following files:
2) Uncomment the following line on the php.ini files by removing the semicolon.
3) Restart your apache server
Create Magento database
1) Open a browser and navigate to http://127.0.0.1/phpmyadmin/
2) Create a new data base named magento
1) Extract the Magento-1.0.19870.4. zip file
2) Copy the extracted files to the httpdoc folder of XAMPP (rename any exsisting index files for your XMAPP install)
3) Navigate your browser to http://127.0.0.1/index.php
4) Follow the Magento install wizard