just installed XAMPP .. working OK.. had another mySQL server running , had to shut that one down. Installed wordpress, then had to edit httpd.conf to allow access to wordpress directory.
still uneasy about configuring extended features of phpMyAdmin.. getting this message:
The phpMyAdmin configuration storage is not completely configured, some extended features have been deactivated.
other than that, working OK here. ~peace. good morning from Chicago.
UPDATE - I am also running test installs for vBulletin and XenForo