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  • Networking Windows XP and Windows 7 Computers
Technology Articles > Computers > Networking > Networking Windows XP and Windows 7 Computers

Windows 7 may be the latest and greatest operating system from Microsoft, but that doesn’t mean that everyone’s made the transition yet. In fact, due to the unpopularity of Windows Vista and the subsequent economic downturn, many businesses and institutions haven’t made the investment toward a system-wide upgrade to Windows 7 from XP. So, what should you do if you have a home or office with both Windows XP and Windows 7 computers on the network? In order to allow Windows XP computers and Windows 7 computers to “see” each other, make sure you follow these steps.

Step 1: Setting Up Workgroups

Windows 7 began moving away from the concept of Workgroups to focus on Homegroups. For networking Windows 7 machines, it’s all a matter of getting on the same Homegroup. But Windows XP doesn’t have Homegroups. Luckily, Windows 7 still has an area where you can set up a Workgroup to get on the same page as XP. To find it, click Control Panel > System and Security > System. Go to the Computer Name tab and look to see what the Workgroup is set to. The default is WORKGROUP.

On the XP computer, you can find the Workgroup name by right-clicking My Comptuer and choosing Properties then clicking the Computer Name tab.

If the Workgroup names aren’t the same, click “Change...” next to the text that says “To rename this computer or join a domain, click Change...” on the Windows 7 computer. Select the Workgroup radio button and type in the same Workgroup as the Windows XP comptuer.

Step 2: Network Settings

On the Windows 7 computer,\tclick Start and choose Run. Type control.exe /name Microsoft.NetworkAndSharingCenter into the box and press Enter. On the left, click Change advanced sharing settings. Next, turn on Network Discovery and File Sharing. Also, turn OFF password protected sharing.

On the Windows XP computer, right-click My Computer and choose Manage... Click Services and Applications. Open the Services section. Scroll down to Computer Browser and set it to Automatic by double-clicking it and then choosing Automatic in the Startup type menu. Note: This is the default setting for XP computers. If everything works fine, you may not need to complete this step.

Step 3: Share Folders

In Windows 7, right-click the folders you’d like to share and choose “Share with” and choose “Homegroup Read and Write.”

Step 4: Browse Network Locations

Now, you should be able to see the Windows XP computer from the Windows 7 Explorer’s network locations and vice versa. From the Windows XP computer, the Windows 7 shared folders will be in My Computer > My Network Places > View Workgroup Computers. On Windows 7, you’ll find the Windows XP computer under Network on the left.


The key here is to get your Windows XP and Windows 7 computers on the same network and enable network file and folder sharing on both computers. Once this is complete, everything should work. If not, then you may want to check your firewall or router settings. There could be other issues besides network settings that cause difficulties when trying to get Windows 7 and Windows XP computers to communicate with one another.