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Networking Windows 7 and Windows XP PCs

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Windows 7 networking is a big step upwards from Windows XP — so big that it helps to have a guide to what's new and different. Let Windows and home networking expert Mark Edward Soper, author of Easy Microsoft Windows 7, show you how to add your shiny new Windows 7 computer to your existing Windows XP network.

Windows 7 makes network configuration easier than ever by centralizing network setup, management, and troubleshooting. However, Windows 7 networking is a huge change from Windows XP networking. In this article, you'll learn how Windows 7 and Windows XP networking differ from each other and how to add systems running Windows 7 to a current Windows XP-based network. This article focuses on the new network management features in Windows 7 that are common to wired and wireless networking. In a separate article, you will learn about Windows 7's wireless networking features.

Network Access Options in Windows 7

The Network and Sharing Center is the place to go for Windows 7 network configuration and management. As you might expect, there are two ways to arrive in the Network and Sharing Center:

  • The Network folder
  • The Control Panel

Open the Network folder (Figure 1) from any Explorer window (it can also be added to the right pane of the Start menu) to browse computers on the network. It also provides one-click access to the Network and Sharing Center.

Figure 1 Windows 7's Network Folder.

You can also open the Network and Sharing Center from the Network and Internet category of Control Panel (Figure 2).

Figure 2 Windows 7's Control Panel.

Either way, you're just a couple of clicks from the Network and Sharing Center.

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