Sharing resources on Windows 9x/Me systems is as easy as opening Network Neighborhood and double-clicking the share name, and maybe typing a password if the resource is password protected. However, the process is a bit more complicated when setting up a peer-to-peer network that includes Windows 2000 or Windows XP systems because of the newer operating systems’ increased focus on security.

To enable W2K Professional peer-to-peer networking, you’ll need to manually add additional user accounts. Fortunately, the procedure is a little easier in Windows XP because of its Network Setup Wizard. Let’s take a closer look at these two approaches.

Working with Windows 2000
If you’re creating a peer-to-peer network composed of only Windows 2000 systems or a mixture of Windows 2000 and Windows 9x/Me machines, you’ll need to manually add additional user accounts to the Windows 2000 systems. W2K Professional was designed to work in a domain-model network where all users are verified by a domain controller. When you set up W2K Professional systems on a peer-to-peer network, there’s no domain controller, of course, but users still must be verified before they can access shared resources. So, you need to create local user accounts on your W2K Professional system for every computer that will need to access shared resources on that system.

Before you get started, you’ll need to create list of the user account names and passwords on all systems on the peer-to-peer network. Once you have the list, you’re ready to set up your accounts.

To begin, open Control Panel and double-click the Users And Passwords icon. When you see the Users And Passwords dialog box, shown in Figure A, click the Add button.

Figure A
You need to set up user accounts on the Windows 2000 system for every user on the peer-to-peer network.

From this point, simply follow the directions in the Add New User Wizard to create an account with one of the usernames and passwords on your list. When you get to the last page in the Add New User Wizard, you’ll need to specify the level of access for the new user account, as shown in Figure B. The access level you choose will depend on how much control you want the user to have; in most cases, a Standard user account will be sufficient.

Figure B
When you get to Add New User Wizard’s last page, specify the access level for the user account.

When you click Finish, you’ll return to the Users And Passwords dialog box, where you’ll see the user account in the list, as shown in Figure C. Repeat these steps to set up the other user accounts. When you have finished, all users will be able to seamlessly connect to the Win2K Professional system and access shared resources.

Figure C
The new Sam Saturday user account allows this Windows 98 user to seamlessly access shared resources on the Win2K system.

Working with Windows XP
Microsoft realized that the demand for peer-to-peer networks is on the rise, so it made creating such network configurations as easy as possible with the Windows XP Network Setup Wizard. Basically, you launch the Network Setup Wizard on a Windows XP system and follow the onscreen instructions to configure a Windows XP system for peer-to-peer networking. When you get to the last step, you have the option to create a Network Setup Disk, which you can then use to configure Windows 9x/Me systems to participate along with Windows XP. Let’s take a closer look at the procedure.

Using Microsoft’s SOHO networking checklist

Before you run the Network Setup Wizard, you might want to investigate Microsoft’s Steps For Creating A Home Or Small Office Network checklist. To find it and other helpful networking information, check out Microsoft’s Windows XP Networking and the Web page.

On your Windows XP system, open Control Panel and select the Network And Internet Connections category; then click the Network Connections icon. When you see the Network Connections window, select the Set Up A Home Or Small Office Network item on the Network Tasks Explorer Bar to launch the Network Setup Wizard.

The first two pages of the wizard contain helpful information that you should peruse. The page you’ll see next depends on whether your peer-to-peer network already has an existing shared Internet connection. If it does, you’ll see a page that prompts you to use the existing shared Internet connection. If it doesn’t, you’ll see a page asking you to choose an Internet connection method or to configure a network without an Internet link.

Once you work through your Internet connection options, you’ll see the Give This Computer A Description And Name page. At this point, you’ll assign a computer name to your system, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D
You’ll need to assign the system a computer name.

When you click Next, you’ll be prompted to specify a workgroup name, as shown in Figure E. If you have an existing workgroup name, just type that same name here.

Figure E
You must specify a workgroup name for the peer-to-peer network.

When you click Next, you’ll see a summary screen that shows you the selections you’ve made so far. When you click Next, the wizard will apply your settings and configure your Windows XP system to participate in a peer-to-peer network. Once the configuration operation is complete, you’ll see the You’re Almost Done page, as shown in Figure F, and be prompted to create a Network Setup Disk.

Figure F
As the last step of the process, you should create a Network Setup Disk.

Even though you may not need to use a Network Setup Disk, I suggest you go ahead and create one anyway, just to have it on hand.

At this point, your Windows XP system should be able to see and access shared resources on all other computers on the peer-to-peer network via My Network Places. Likewise, all the Windows 9x/Me systems on the peer-to-peer network should be able to see and access shared resources on the Windows XP system.

If that’s not the case, you’ll need to use the executable file on your Network Setup Disk to run the Network Setup Wizard and configure your Windows 9x/Me systems to participate in the peer-to-peer network. Remember that the Network Setup Wizard can run only on Windows 9x/Me systems. If your peer-to-peer network contains Windows 2000 systems, you’ll need to follow the steps we covered earlier.

More information
If you want to learn more about peer-to-peer networking with Windows 2000 and Windows XP, you should investigate the following Microsoft Knowledge Base articles and Web pages: