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Splash screens for Windows 7 and Windows XP. Despite Microsoft's claims, it is NOT a slam dunk to get these two popular versions of Windows to share files and peripherals on a simple wireless home network. The following Nine-Point Checklist will get up and running with a mixed Windows 7 / Windows XP wireless network.

Nine-Step Checklist --
The Windows 7 / Windows XP
Wireless Home Networking Bible
By Bruce Brown

"Windows 7 Home Premium makes it easy to create a home network...
View and connect to any available network in as few as three clicks."
-- Microsoft advertisement for Windows 7, December 2009

WHAT A HOOT! Seriously.

OK, it's 2010 and what's the MOST common networking scenario that people with new, whiz-bang Windows 7 PCs are likely to encounter?

Well, considering that the majority of the Windows user base is still running three-plus-year old Windows XP, many many (as they say in Walla Walla) new Windows 7 users are likely to find themselves in a mixed Windows 7 / Windows XP network environment -- where the two versions of Windows are thrown together on the same peer-to-peer network for file and printer sharing.

OK, it's still 2010, and what's the most common networking complaint concerning Microsoft's new Windows 7? You hear some griping about the new Windows 7-only Homegroup networking feature, but that's really just normal noise on the line. By far and away, the biggest Windows 7 networking problem is that it can be unbelievably difficult to get Windows 7 PCs to network with older, much more numerous Windows XP PCs.

A decade ago I swore I'd never do PC software tech support again. It was a gift I gave myself. But I had to master Windows 7 and Windows XP peer-to-peer wireless networking for my own purposes, and so I'm passing on what I learned here in the form of The Windows 7 / Windows XP Wireless Home Networking Bible.

This information should be in the tech support knowledge bases of Microsoft, Symantec, McAfee, Dell and HP, to mention just a few, but it's never been collected in one place until now, here. Enjoy, or as we used to say at BugNet, "may you go with foreknowledge..."

Here is the Nine-Step Checklist in outline form. Click links to jump directly to the step you want, or read them in sequence...

  1. Boot up the Windows 7 and Windows XP machines
  2. Determine that they both can connect to the internet over the same wireless network
  3. Make both machines members of the same network Workgroup
  4. Setup both machines to share files over the network
  5. Temporarily turn off all Windows XP firewalls
  6. Reboot and connect
  7. Turn back on Windows XP Firewall and configure
  8. Turn back on McAfee or Norton anti-virus firewall on Windows XP and configure
  9. Reboot and connect

OK, here we go...

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1) Boot up two machines, one running Windows XP and the other Windows 7.

2) Make sure they can both access the Internet over the same wireless network.

3) Now let's make sure the two machines are set up to be members of the same network Workgroup.

In Windows XP, go Start > Control Panel > System Properties. Choose the Computer Name Tab. Here you'll see the Workgroup name stipulated. XP's default is MSHOME, while Windows 7's default is WORKGROUP. One this screen you'll see a button that allows you to change the name of the computer and its Workgroup.

In Windows 7, go Start > Control Panel > System & Security > System. Toward the bottom of this screen you'll see the Computer Name and Workgroup listed, as well as links that allow you to change these settings.

Make sure the XP and Windows 7 machines have the same Workgroup name, with exactly the same spelling and capitalization.

4) Now let's make sure both machines are properly set up to share files and peripherals.

First go to your Windows XP machine and open Windows Explorer -- Start > All Programs > Assecories. Steer in Windows Explorer to the folder(s) you want to share. Right-click on the folder and choose Sharing & Security > Sharing tab. Tick "Share this folder on the network" and/or "Allow users to change my files," depending on the level of sharing you want to grant, and click OK. Now the icon for the folder you just shared shows a hand super-imposed on the lower portion, indicating it is a shared folder (see screen shot below).

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The Awful Truth About Dreamweaver, Pt. 2
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Lessons of the Late Maya

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Software --
* Spotlight on Microsoft
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Home Networking Bible
* Spotlight on Adobe
The GoLive > Dreamweaver
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* Spotlight on Apple
The FileMaker Migration Bible
   
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What Happens When A Dell
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Comments --
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Workgroup setup in Windows XP (ABOVE LEFT) and Windows 7 (ABOVE RIGHT). The Workgroup name must be identical on all Windows XP and Windows 7 machines., as shown here.

Now go to your Windows 7 machine. Click Start > Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > Network and Sharing Center > Change Advanced Sharing Settings (the location of this button is a little obscure -- it's near the top of the blue bar on the left in the column headed, "Control Panel Home" -- see pics below) and make sure you have Network Discovery, File and Printer Sharing and Public Folder Sharing all set to "On," and Password Protected Sharing to "Off" (again, see screen shots of settings below).

File sharing in Windows XP -- folders that have been shared appear with the hand at the bottom of the folder icon (ABOVE LEFT). Right-click the folder icon in Windows Explorer > Properties > Sharing Tab to access the sharing control for folders in Windows XP, shown here set to allow read/write access to other computers in the Workgroup (ABOVE RIGHT).

Open Windows Explorer, navigate to the folder on your Win7 machine that you want to share on the network and right-click it. Go Properties > Sharing Tab > Advanced Sharing > Share this folder > click Apply and OK > Close. (See screenshots below.)

 
File sharing in Windows 7 (ABOVE)-- Here are the control screens for file and printer sharing in Windows 7. These are the settings to allow file and print sharing on a peer-to-peer network..

Open Windows Explorer, navigate to the folder on your Win7 machine that you want to share on the network and right-click it. Go Properties > Sharing Tab > Advanced Sharing > Share this folder > click Apply and OK > Close. (See screenshots above.)

Since you turned off Password Protected Sharing on your Win7 (see screenshot above), you now need to change the security permissions on your shared folder(s) in Win7 to allow Everyone access (Windows cleverly doesn't do this for you). Right-click the shared folder > Properties > Sharing Tab > Sharing > type "Everyone" (without the quotation marks) into the box and click Add. Now highlight Everyone on the list and click Share and tick the boxes next to the permissions you want to allow (e.g. Read and/or Write, etc.) then click Apply > OK (see screenshots below). You may get a message: "An error occurred while applying..." If you get this error, it usually can be ignored by clicking Continue.

BugNet by Bruce Brown

File sharing in Windows 7 (ABOVE)-- In Windows Explorer (as opposed to Control Panel, as in the screenshots ABOVE) When you left-click on a folder > Properties, these are the General and Sharing Tabs (TOP LEFT & RIGHT). The Share button on the Sharing Tab gets you to the LOWER screenshot, where you must enter "Everyone" (without quotation marks) as a group and assign the level of access you want.

5) Now you need to temporarily turn off all firewalls on your Windows XP machine, probably both Windows Firewall and either McAfee or Norton Anti-virus firewall. (The reason is that in XP Pro the default installation of both blocks network traffic, while the defaults in Windows 7 Home do not). Sounds like a hassle, I know, but it'll save time later...

Start with the Windows Firewall on your Windows XP machine. Go to Control Panel > Security Center > Windows Firewall > General Tab. On the General Tab there is a toggle that turns the Windows Firewall On and Off (see screen shots below).

Now turn off your McAfee Security Center or Norton 360 firewall. In McAfee Security Center, click on Internet and Network in the main pane, then Configure toward the bottom right of the screen. Click Off in the top heading under Internet & Network Configuration, called "Firewall protection is enabled" (see screenshot below).

Turning Off your Windows Windows XP firewall -- In Windows XP, go to Control Panel > Security Center > Windows Firewall. The General Tab shown in the screenshot above shows the Windows Firewall turned Off.

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6) Reboot both your Windows XP and Windows 7 machines. In Windows XP, open Windows Explorer > Network places, find the Windows 7 machine, click on it, open the shared folder(s). Do the same on your Win7 machine. Most people are going to feel a great surge of accomplishment at this point because it actually works! You should now be able to browse the shared folders on each machine from the other machine.

Walla, as some geek said! But you're really only half way there. Now you gotta go back and configure your firewall(s).

[If it doesn't work, turn off your Win7 firewall(s), reboot and try again.]

7) Turn On Windows Firewall on your Windows XP machine (see screenshots above). Reboot both machines. Open Windows Explorer on your Windows XP machine again, go to My Network Places and see if you can browse the shared folders on your Windows 7 machine.

If everything works at this point, you can proceed to Step 8. It probably won't work, though, and you may get an error something like: "error 0x80070035. the network path was not found..." You may also be urged to check the spelling of the path.

Don't despair. On your Windows XP machine, go to Control Panel > Security Center > Windows Firewall > General Tab. Make sure the Windows Firewall is still turned On and then go to the Advanced Tab. Uncheck the checkbox next to "1394 Connection" (see screenshot below). Click OK, reboot both machines, and try again to use Windows Explorer to browse the shared folder(s), one from the other. Most people will get that wonderful surge of success again.

 

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Configuring Windows Firewall in Windows XP to allow wireless network traffic -- go to Control Panel > Security Center > Windows Firewall. On the General Tab (ABOVE RIGHT) turn Windows Firewall ON. Then go to the Advanced Tab and uncheck the box next to "1394 Connection."

OK, you should now be able to access each of the two Windows machines from the other, which means that you have the Windows Firewall on your Windows XP machine configured correctly to allow network traffic from your Windows XP machine to your Windows 7 machine, and vice versa. Again that great feeling, but again, you're still not all the way there yet.

[If you still can't browse the shared folder(s) on one machine from the other with Windows Explorer, go to your Windows XP machine > Control Panel > Security Center > Windows Firewall > Advanced Tab. Uncheck the checkboxes next to "Local Area Connection" and "Wireless Network Connection," as well as "1394 Connection." Click OK, reboot both machines, and try again to use Windows Explorer to browse the shared folder(s), one from the other.]

8) Now we need to configure your third-party firewall, something like McAfee Security Center or Norton 360, assuming you have anti-virus software from one or the other installed on your Windows XP machine. If you don't have an anti-virus software firewall installed, go to Step 9.

McAfee Security Center users, go to Security Center > Manage Network and click the icon for the Windows 7 machine with which you want to network. Click Mark as Friend or Intruder and make sure the Windows 7 machine is designated as a Friend (see screenshots below).

"Mass extinction of Web Sites Looms..." by Bruce Brown

Configuring McAfee Security Center Network in Windows XP -- In McAfee Security Center under Manage Network, you can designate another machine on the wireless network as a Friend or Intruder, and also .

Still in McAfee Security Center, click one of the machines on your network or your router (see screenshot below) to see the numerical IP range used by your home network. Note the numerical IP of the machine (last item in info box at the bottom of the screen). Now go back to Security Center Home and click Firewall > Networks. Make sure the numerical IP you just noted is within the range of one of the "Trusted" IP's on the IP Address List. Change the IP to to Trusted if it isn't designated that way.

Configuring McAfee Security Center Firewall in Windows XP -- In McAfee Security Center under Manage Network, you can get the IP address of your network hub and various machines on the network (ABOVE LEFT). Go to Security Center > Manage Network and highlight the machine on which you want info. With the IP address in hand, go McAfee Security Center > Internet & Network > Firewall Protection is enabled > Advanced > System Services and confirm that your wireless home network's numerical IP range is listed as Trusted (screenshot at RIGHT).

Next, go to McAfee Security Center > Internet and Network. Click the Configure button to the right and below the services in "Internet and Network." In the next screen, to the right of Internet and Network Configuration, click the radio button, "Firewall Protection is Enabled," reactivating your McAfee Firewall. Now click the Advanced button. On the left of the next screen, click System Services. Now you see a list of ports. Make sure the boxes are checked next to Windows File Sharing System (NETBIOS) ports 137-139 and Microsoft Directory Server (MSFT) port 445, meaning these ports are opened for network traffic. Click Apply > OK (see screenshots below).

"The Windows 7 / Windows XP Wireless Home Networking Bible" by Bruce Brown

Configuring McAfee Security Center Firewall in Windows XP -- In McAfee Security Center under Firewall > Networks, go to go to System Service and make sure the boxes are checked next to Windows File Sharing System (NETBIOS) ports 137-139 and Microsoft Directory Server (MSFT) port 445, meaning these ports are opened for network traffic.

Norton 360 users need to do the same. In Norton 360, click Task and Settings > Change Advanced Settings > Firewall Protection Settings > Network Location. Check to see if your network location (numerical IP) is listed as Limited. If it is, change it to Trusted. Norton 360 users may also have to open ports 137-139 and 445 Windows File Sharing and Windows Directory Server respectively, as discussed for McAfee Security Center above.

9) Now we're getting close. Shut down both PCs and reboot them. Open Windows Explorer on each machine and browse the shared folder(s) on the other machine. Pretty cool, huh?! You might want to run a complete virus scan on all machines on your network since you've had your firewalls down, but otherwise you're done. Beverages all around!

So how's that for the "easy" wireless network setup Microsoft promised in its glossy advertisements? Here's another screenshot from Microsoft.com. It claims that Windows 7 enables you to "view and connect to any available wireless network in as few as three clicks." I haven't done a complete count of the actual, real world Windows 7 / Windows XP network setup procedures outlined above, but the actual number of clicks required to set up peer-to-peer networking between Windows 7 and the rest of the Windows world can be closer to 300 clicks than three!

-- Bruce Brown
December 14, 2009
Updated January 18, 2010

P.S. If you still can't get your Windows 7 and Windows XP machines to get it together on your wireless home network, click here...

Deceptive advertising by Microsoft for Windows 7 -- Microsoft claims Windows 7 let you "connect to networks easily -- view and connect to any available wireless network in as few as three clicks" (circled in screen shot ABOVE). As this article demonstrates, it takes closer to 300 clicks to connect a Windows 7 Home Premium PC to a Windows XP Pro computer, the most common networking environment in which Windows 7 users will find themselves.


What to do if the #$@&* machines still won't network...

IF YOU still can't get your Windows 7 and Windows XP machines to connect on your wireless home network after following the Nine-Step Checklist, there are a couple more things you can try.

If you have McAfee Security Center installed, go to the main screen, click Manage Network (in the list on left), then click the icon for the Windows 7 PC you're trying to network with. If it's status is listed as Managed, change it to Unmanaged (or vice versa -- the toggle is in the lower right hand corner of the screen), then rebbot and try to browse the other machine with Windows Explorer again.

You can also try connecting the Windows 7 and Windows XP machines via numerical IP. If you have McAfee Security Center, go Manage Network. There you'll see the IP for your router, which defines the IP range that your home network uses. If you highlight the computer(s) on the wireless network -- including the one you're on -- you'll see the numerical IP for that machine.

If you don't have a program like McAfee Security Center to reveal the numerical IP's to you, you can get each machine's numerical IP by opening a DOS box, typing "ipconfig" (without the quotation marks) at the DOS prompt and hitting Enter, as detailed in this video for Windows Vista (works pretty much the same in XP and Win7).

Now go Start > Run (on XP) or Start > Search box (Win7), type //191.168.1.197 (replace this number with the numerical IP of the machine you want to network with) and hit Enter. If that works, you can use that address in your shortcuts, etc., but you also know you've got a problem in your TCP/IP which needs looking at.

If you're still getting error code 0x80070035, it could be that NETBIOS isn't enabled over TCP/IP in Windows. Here's a Microsoft Knowledge Base article that addresses this sweet possibility.

-- B.B.

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