| By Woody Leonhard |
Now that Windows 7 has arrived, many people will be mixing and matching systems running Win7, Vista, and XP on their home and small-office networks.
Setting up such heterogeneous networks isn’t as hard as you might think … if you follow a few simple rules.
The crux of the mixed-network problem
Anybody who has set up a Windows network — any Windows network — will tell you that the process is easy … until something goes wrong. Usually, adding a Windows 7 machine to an existing network of Win7 PCs is as simple as connecting the system to the network, telling Windows you’re on a Home network, clicking a few times, and entering the password for your homegroup. You’re sharing files and printers in a trice.
My Oct. 1 column offers loads of down-and-dirty advice about setting up Win7’s homegroups.
However, adding a Windows 7 machine to an existing Vista or XP network isn’t nearly so simple. Upgrading systems on a mixed network can lead to some inscrutable behavior. I predict more than half the emergency calls I’ll get from new Windows 7 users will be from folks who can’t get their networks going.
I know, because I’ve been there. As much as I love Windows 7, a few of my PCs are going to stay with XP. For one thing, older laptops just aren’t up to making the jump. I’ll also keep one XP clunker around in case I need to use some piece of hardware not supported by Windows 7.