When you think of “sharing” with regard to PCs on home networks, you generally mean two types of resources: files and printers. For a long time, Microsoft has supported sharing these types of resources in various ways, but there was always a level of complexity involved. In Windows 7, there’s a better way. And while it requires two or more PCs in your home to be using Windows 7, the result is worth it: HomeGroup sharing makes sharing documents, music, pictures, video, and other files, as well as printers, easier than ever.
It’s very important to understand HomeGroup permissions. With the old-style workgroup sharing scheme, shared resources are global in that they work across all of the user accounts configured on a PC; but in order to seamlessly access shared folders on other PCs, you would need to make sure each PC has user accounts with the same names and passwords.
HomeGroup sharing is so important to Windows 7 that Microsoft actually makes joining or creating a HomeGroup part of the Windows 7 Setup experience.
With HomeGroups, shared resources are also global in the sense that they work across all user accounts, but the ability to access shared resources is also global: to connect a PC to a homegroup, you just need the HomeGroup password. And once you’re in, you’re in. And that’s true for all user accounts.
HomeGroup sharing does not replace the workgroup network scheme. In fact, to use HomeGroup sharing, you must be on a workgroup. HomeGroup sharing does not work with domain networks like those found in corporations. It is very specifically a consumer-oriented feature aimed at home users.