A stable, efficient local development environment is a bread and butter activity for web developers. A lot of effort is put into creating the right environment for the right application and maintaining consistency with production environments.
Sometimes though you need a lightweight tool that gets you up and running fast with few opportunities for error. We began using Acquia's DevDesktop for our Drupal training classes when it first came out. It's an ideal tool to introduce students to the power of Drupal because it gets them into Drupal's UI, core and contributed modules right away without spending time preparing a technology stack. While this is especially useful in Windows it is just as much a time saver on a Mac.
We're not the only folks who like DevDesktop for training and as a tool to introduce larger audience to Drupal. KMWorld recently named it as one of the Trend-Setting Products of 2012. The award focuses completely on products that offer elegant, workable, sustainable business value. KMWorld makes a point to, "disregard the gimmicky software that might feature a clever idea but has only ephemeral importance."
If you haven't tried it yet, visit https://www.acquia.com/downloads.