Day 4: Networking
My laptop, running Windows XP, was already connected to the internet via the same wireless router that connected the desktop to the internet, so the physical connection was in place. The laptop's ability to access files on the desktop had ceased working, however, first on the "Vista side" of the desktop, and then on the XP side. I hadn't really done much in the way of troubleshooting the XP side since by the time it broke I knew I would be upgrading the OS anyway. But I spent a long time trying to fix the network on the Vista side, without success.
So I was happy that creating the network in Windows 7 was so easy. Win7 discovered the XP laptop automatically. In the networking options, Win7 has a "home" setting for maxiumum access. It also has something called a "homegroup" (yes, it's one word; is this an effort to appeal to urban minorities?), but to use homegroup, all computers must be running Win7. Since my laptop is still XP, I had two things to do. First, I had to rename my laptop's workgroup name to match the workgroup name on the desktop. Second, I had to enable file sharing for all files on the desktop that I wanted to be visible on the laptop. That's it! Once these two steps were done, I could click on the workgroup name in My Network Places --> Entire Network --> Microsoft Windows Network, enter my username and password (the same username and password that I used to login to the desktop), and I was good to go. It doesn't require us to create a special file on a memory stick and execute it on all the participating computers, like we had to with XP and Vista. It oocurs to me that for all my complaints about Microsoft's business practices, their product is consistently better than it has to be, considering its de facto monopoly status.