Microgrids can provide an avenue for increasing the amount of distributed generation (DG) and delivery of electricity, where control is more dispersed and quality of service is locally tailored to end-use requirements, with applications from military bases to campuses to commercial office buildings. Many studies have been done to date on microgrid technology and operations, but fewer studies exist on demonstration programs and commercial microgrid development. As China prepares to launch the largest microgrid demonstration program in the world, we review progress made by demonstration programs across Europe, Asia, and the Americas as well as microgrid benefits and barriers. Through case studies, we highlight the difference in experience for microgrids developed under the auspices of a government-sponsored demonstration program versus those that were commercially developed. Lastly, we provide recommendations oriented towards creating a successful microgrid demonstration program.