Adding Windows 7 computer to an existing XP/Vista network
by, 04-04-2010 at 06:03 AM (7448 Views)
One of the many new innovations included in Windows 7 is a much improved system of home networking called HomeGroup. As well as offering easier and more diverse allocation of permissions to shared content, access is protected by a password which, for small business networks, is a necessity.
As soon as Windows 7 is installed, it creates a default HomeGroup. If it detects an existing HomeGroup, you will be given the opportunity to join, but you will need the password. For home and small business users, HomeGroup is an excellent tool, but there is a problem.
HomeGroup only works when all other machines on the network have Windows 7 installed, which in the short term, may not be the case. There will be many situations where the network has XP or Vista machines as part of the network, in addition to Windows 7. So, how is it possible to get them all to work together?
Actually, it's not that difficult. The trick is to avoid the HomeGroup option which, by default, users are led into when trying to add a Windows 7 machine to an existing network, and do the following instead. These instructions assume that all machines are connected to a common hub/router, either cabled or wirelessly, and that all necessary permissions exist. If you are adding the Windows 7 machine to an existing network, that should already be the case. As this is aimed at home users, only the Workgroup option will be addressed.
First thing to do is note the name of the existing Workgroup, together with the password, if applicable. For this example, we'll use MSHOME, which is the Windows default. If yours is different, change as necessary.
On the Windows 7 machine, click on Start and right click Computer, then Properties. That will open the following window.
At the bottom of the window you'll see Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings. Click on Change Settings. This window will open.
Under the Computer Name tab, click the Change button. In the next window, select Workgroup and enter the name you copied earlier. Click on OK and you'll be prompted to restart.
You should now see your XP/Vista machines shown on the network, and shared files/folders will be accessible, but you may need the network password if one has been allocated. The Windows 7 machine will appear on the rest of the network, but when you try to access any shared files/folders, you'll probably be asked for a password. That's because, by default, Windows 7 requires you to enter one.
To turn that option off, open Network and Sharing Center and, in the left column, click on Change Advanced Sharing Settings. That will open the following window.
Scroll down to Password Protected Sharing, select Turn off Password Protected Sharing, then Save changes at the bottom of the window. You can change other settings in that same window, such as Printer Sharing, etc.
One final word, don't forget to set the sharing options on the Windows 7 machine.