Configuring networking connections is fairly straightforward on Windows XP systems. The network component installation process begins after you’ve installed a network interface card (NIC). Windows XP automatically installs and configures most NICs when it boots. (If your system doesn’t find the NIC you’ve installed, see this article for troubleshooting tips.)

To share files on a network and interconnect systems, three components are required: a client, a service, and a protocol. If you selected the default settings when you installed Windows XP, the following items should have been installed:

  • Client For Microsoft Networks—as the client
  • File And Printer Sharing For Microsoft Networks—as the service
  • Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)—as the protocol

But if you did a custom install, or a user or administrator deleted any of these components, you’ll have to reload them. Here’s a look at how you do it.

Installing the client component
Start by following these steps to install the client:

  1. Click Start | Control Panel.
  2. Click Network And Internet Connections.
  3. Click Network Connections.
  4. Right-click on the Local Area Connection corresponding to the NIC for which you want to configure the network component settings and select Properties.
  5. Click Install in the Local Area Connection Properties dialog box, shown in Figure A.

Figure A

  1. Select Client in the resulting Select Network Component Type dialog box and then click Add. Two options appear by default when using Windows XP Professional: Client For Microsoft Networks and Client Service For NetWare. Since I’m adding my machine to a Microsoft network (the most common scenario), I will select Client For Microsoft Networks and click OK.
  2. After the client is installed, it will appear in the Local Area Connection Properties dialog box. Select the check box next to it to enable its use. Click Close, and the client network component installation is complete.

Service installation
You install service components in Windows XP in the same manner that you install a client component. However, instead of selecting Client from the Select Network Component Type dialog box (step 6 above), select Service.

You can choose from several services that are provided by default in Windows XP:

  • File And Print Sharing For Microsoft Networks
  • QoS Packet Scheduler
  • SAP Agent

Select File And Print Sharing For Microsoft Networks, as that’s the service that permits the sharing of files, documents, spreadsheets, and other resources, such as printers, on a Windows network. Click OK. Then, just as with the client, you’ll have to select the check box to enable the service. Once you do that, you’ve completed the service installation.

You’re not done yet
Now you know how to install the first two components needed for connecting your XP system to a Windows network. But there’s still one component to go. In my next article, I’ll walk through the processes you must follow to install and configure the basic network settings for the TCP/IP protocol in Windows XP. All three of these components are equally critical for allowing an XP system to participate in TCP/IP-based Windows file and printer sharing and other vital network functions.