We’ve often heard people in large organisations logging calls to have SharePoint installed on their laptops so they can use it. You don’t need to do that.
All you need to do to get access, is have your governance forum / IT department / Site Collection Administrator / Site Owner give you access to a site so you can play. It doesn’t matter what operating system you have on your laptop, the biggest driver here is your browser. SharePoint works optimally in Internet Explorer, and with some limitations in Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
It also doesn’t really matter what version of Office you have, although it is best to use the same Office version as SharePoint to get all the functionality available; ie: Office 2007 and MOSS 2007; Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010.
You also need something called Silverlight installed to see the SharePoint 2010 functionality like it was meant to be seen. Click here to find out if you have Silverlight installed.
You get given access to a site by someone adding your username to the permission groups on the site. They will send you a link to the site and you are good to go.
However, if you need SharePoint Designer, then that needs to be installed on your physical machine. SharePoint Designer is not SharePoint. SPD / Designer is a tool that extends SharePoint functionality. (And it’s free by the way, so don’t let IT tell you have to pay for it).
So in future, when logging a call to get access – you can instruct your IT helpdesk what to do. Depending on the size of the company and helpdesk, they also don’t always know how this works.