Monday, September 7, 2009

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Create Virtual Networks Through Homegroups In Windows 7 | New In Windows 7

If you've ever used a house key, you know how to use Homegroups. OK, that's Microsoft's analogy, and the process isn't quite that easy, but it's close.
First, you need to have some background about home groups: The first time you connect a Vista PC to a network, you're asked whether the network is Public, Work, or Home. If you dig deep into the bowels of Vista, however, you discover that there's no real difference between a Work network and a Home network.

By contrast, Windows 7's Home networks are special, because they allow you to set up Homegroups. It doesn't matter whether the network is really in your home, your home office, or a camouflaged Winnebago parked outside the Pentagon. Home networks get treated differently. (In Windows 7, Work networks and Public networks function pretty much the same way they do in Vista.)

If you identify a network as a Home network, Windows 7 reaches out to all the other Windows 7 computers on the network and asks whether they're part of something called a Homegroup. If Windows 7 finds a Homegroup, it asks you to provide the password for the Homegroup. Enter the correct password and — boom! You're suddenly attached and sharing all sorts of resources with other computers in the Homegroup.

There are no weird settings to decipher and none of Vista's 20 questions about Network Discovery, File Sharing, and Password-Protected Sharing. Just a nice, simple network — and creating it requires only a password and a couple of clicks.

If there's no pre-existing Homegroup, Windows 7 offers to set one up. Other Windows 7 computers on the network identify it as a "Home" network and can link to it simply by entering the Homegroup password. Easy — you know, the way it's supposed to be (thanks, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young).

By default, computers in a Homegroup share their Pictures, Music, and Video Libraries. Note: I'm talking about Libraries, not folders. The Homegroup members also share their printers by default. However, you're asked whether you want to share your Documents Library; some people will want to, while others won't, primarily for security purposes.

If Homegroups sound like precisely the kind of sharing you want for your small office, remember to tell Windows 7 that you're on a "Home" network. The rest of the process is as easy as falling off a log.

Homegroups and Libraries enhance file sharing
Say your small network has two Windows 7 computers connected to a Homegroup and each computer has two users. Every time you open Windows Explorer — for example, by clicking Start, Computer or Start, Pictures — Explorer's left navigation pane shows a Homegroup. Click it to access the Libraries for everyone in the Homegroup.

In this case, you can get into the other user's Libraries on your computer in addition to the Libraries for both of the users on the second computer.

If one of the users on the other computer adds a folder to her Music Library, for example, that folder is immediately available to you because you're in the same Homegroup. If somebody on the other computer downloads a bunch of photos from her camera into her Pictures folder, you can find them by going through her Pictures Library in the Homegroup.
Obviously, you don't want to share sensitive files — that's why the Homegroup setup makes sharing the Documents Library optional. But for most people, combining Libraries and Homegroups will make networking much easier and more flexible.

This is a tremendous improvement. Finally, disparate parts of Windows are starting to hang together. It's almost as if somebody planned it to work this way. Amazing! Now, if we could just get rid of those $#@! ribbons!

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Haja Peer Mohamed H, Software Engineer by profession, Author, Founder and CEO of "bench3" you can connect with me on Twitter , Facebook and also onGoogle+

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