How do I set up a home workgroup network with mixed Windows versions?

Dimitri December 22, 2014
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Hi everyone,

I’m currently having issues running a home network with a Windows 8.1 PC as the central file server. The client PCs (there are 3) are each running Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista SP2 and Windows 7.

Went through the setup process just fine, put every PC on the same WORKGROUP (not HOMEGROUP because of XP and Vista), created local user accounts for each PC and they all actually connect fine when I’m accessing the Public folders on the 8.1 machine (Public documents, Public Videos, etc), even though the user accounts and PC names don’t strictly match. So each PC can see the server on the network (and each other). But when I try to share a another folder of my choice (like a folder on the Storage Space drive), only the Windows 7 PC still works.

Only by turning password protected sharing off, and setting security/sharing permissions to EVERYONE can I get the XP machine to connect, but not the Vista one! It’s driving me insane trying to figure this out. If anyone has any tips or tricks for getting this to work, that’d be amazing. Or at the very least, does anyone know how to reset my networking connection/sharing settings on XP/Vista so I can at least start again?


  1. 123
    December 30, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Change the other systems to windows 7 . Easiest thing to do .

  2. Kannon Y
    December 24, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    I know this is a silly thing to mention, but XP systems are now really, really insecure if exposed to the Internet.

    Have you considered installing some version of Linux? Linux most of the time installs really easy on older machines (although sometimes it can require a lot of troubleshooting in order to get working properly).

    They can access shared drives more easily than an XP system can. I have an Ubuntu 14.10 media center which accesses my Windows 8.1 home server without any issues. Conversely, the test-bed XP system that I have pretty much gives me fits trying to access the shared drive.

  3. ha14
    December 22, 2014 at 11:55 am
  4. Jan F.
    December 22, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Unfortunately I don't have an environment where I can test this specific setup and give you a more detailed answer but password protected shares are known to cause issues if the client is running anything older than Windows 7.

    My first suggestion would be to take a look at the Server service:
    1. press Windows key + R, type "services.msc" and pres Enter
    2. in the Services window find the "Server" service and right-click properties on it
    3. click on the dependencies tab and take note

    If the first dependency is shown as "Server SMB Driver" then you already found the cause of your issues. Windows XP does not support SMB 2.x and making them work together is... well, it doesn't really work.

    We will have to make the first dependency "Server SMB Driver" to make them play nice together. I don't have a Windows 8.1 computer at hand so this suggestion is based on Server 2012:

    1. press Windows key + R and type "regedit", enter
    2. in the registry editor navigate to
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SYSTEM > CurrentControlSet > Services > LanmanServer
    3. double-click the DependOnService entry

    Change it from whatever is in there (probably "SamSS Srv2") to "SamSS Srv". Close the registry editor and restart your system.
    When you are back in Windows 8.1 take another look at the Server service and make sure that the changes work. If the dependency is now shown as SMB then you should be able to logon using XP.

  5. Bruce E
    December 22, 2014 at 6:48 am

    Your official Microsoft checklist for this type of network is here.

    The most important points are: the network must be private (home or work), they need to be in the same workgroup, the firewall needs to let the appropriate traffic through, and some security suites block traffic on what it perceives is an untrusted network, so you may need to make changes there as well.