How to Connect a Windows Vista Computer and a Windows XP Computer on a Network - dummies

How to Connect a Windows Vista Computer and a Windows XP Computer on a Network

By Andy Rathbone

Many homes have multiple computers. Anytime you have multiple computers, it’s a good idea to connect them to a network so that you can share resources. However, problems can appear when you try to connect Windows Vista computers on the same network as Windows XP computers.

A network’s name is called a workgroup, and for some reason, Microsoft used different workgroup names in different versions of Windows. Windows XP Home PCs automatically use MSHOME as their workgroup name; Windows Vista PCs use WORKGROUP as their workgroup name. So if you put a Vista PC and a Windows XP Home PC on the same network, and they can’t find or talk with each other: One PC searches in vain for other MSHOME PCs, and the other only looks for WORKGROUP PCs.

The solution is to give them both the same workgroup name, a fairly easy task.

  1. On your Vista PC, click the Start menu, right-click Computer, and choose Properties.

    The System screen appears, revealing basic techie information about your PC.

  2. Choose Change Settings.


    That task lives in the section called Computer Name, Domain, and Workgroup Settings.

  3. Click the Change button.

    The Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box appears.

  4. In the bottom box, change the Workgroup name to MSHOME.


    That puts Vista on the same workgroup as your Windows XP PC. Alternatively, you can change your Windows XP PC’s workgroup name to WORKGROUP by following these same five steps, but clicking the Computer Name tag in Step 2. But no matter what you call your network’s workgroup, make sure that every networked PC bears the same workgroup name.

    Be careful in this step to change each PC’s workgroup name, not its computer name, as they’re different things.

  5. Click OK to close the open windows and, when asked, click the Restart Now button to restart your PC.

    Repeat these steps for your other networked PCs, making sure that the same name appears in each Workgroup box.