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The New HomeGroup Feature

In Microsoft's attempt to make networking and sharing more user- and home-friendly, they created a new sharing configuration scheme called HomeGroup. It essentially uses the old traditional sharing technology, but the settings have been redesigned.

This can help users interested in creating a basic sharing network, though there is more to be desired. One of the major disappointments of this feature is that HomeGroup works only with other Windows 7 computers, whereas most homes don't have brand new PCs.

Figure 3 shows the HomeGroup settings. Here you can choose what Libraries (folders) and printers you want to share and the media you want to share to particular media players. From the window you can also define the password users will have to enter when accessing the HomeGroup. You'll also find a link to the now advanced sharing settings, the old Sharing and Discovery settings. A link to these settings is also on the main Networking and Sharing Center.

When using HomeGroup, you can still manually share folders that exist outside of the Libraries. You can right-click a folder and hover over Share with (see Figure 5), which lets you share with the HomeGroup members (either as read-only access, or read and write access) or to specific people for whom you can also define permissions.

Selecting to share with specific people brings up the same File Sharing Wizard seen in Vista. Also similar, you can add users to the share list and give them read-only, or read and write access.

For this approach, defining different permissions for users to work best, the same user accounts still should be present on all the networked PCs.

I should also note that when sharing a folder with the HomeGroup, the access permission you set will be the same among all users.

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