It’s a rare Windows machine indeed that isn’t connected, sooner or later, to some kind of home or office (known to nerds as a local area network, or LAN). And no wonder: The payoff is considerable. Once you’ve created a network, you can copy files from one machine to another just as you’d drag files between folders on your own PC. You can store your music or photo files on one computer and play them on any other. Everyone on the network can consult the same database, phone book, or calendar. When the workday’s done, you can play games over the network.
Most importantly, you can share a single printer, cable modem or DSL Internet connection, fax modem, or phone line among all the PCs in the house.
If you work at a biggish company, you probably work on a domain network—the big, centrally managed type found in corporations. You, lucky thing, won’t have to fool around with building or designing a network, because your job, and your PC, presumably came with a fully functioning network (and a fully functioning geek responsible for running it).
If you work at home, or if you’re responsible for setting up a network in a smaller office, this chapter is for you. It guides you through the construction of a less formal workgroup network, which ordinary mortals can put together.
Setting up a network has never approached the simplicity of, say, setting up a desk lamp. But in Windows 8, there’s some terrific news on this front. A feature called Homegroups makes ...