Older Operating Systems – Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT

Even though 99% of the patrons of PChuck’s Network are looking for help with networking between computers running Windows 2000 or Windows XP, there will always be those with older operating systems. Even though you’d be much better off (on a computer that will support it) upgrading to Windows XP, I will always advise you to only upgrade from a working system.

Do not expect to get rid of problems by upgrading. Fix your problems first. That being an issue, how do you network Windows XP with older operating systems? What are the issues between Windows XP and older operating systems?

  • The browser. Election of a master browser works best when all computers play by the same rules. If you have 2 computers on your LAN – one running Windows 98, and the other running Windows XP – a computer running Windows XP should always be elected as the master browser.
    • The Windows XP operating system is more reliable. It manages resources better, and will provide more diagnostics.
    • A computer running Windows XP is probably newer than one running Windows 98. The hardware will probably be more reliable, and have more power.

    Since Windows XP is the preferred authority, on any network with mixed population, the browser election process should always favour a Windows XP computer for master browser. The Windows XP browser process uses this reasoning. Unfortunately, the Windows 98 browse master does not do this, reliably.

  • File sharing. Computers running Windows 98 can share files using share level access (one password used by all), or user level access (similar to local accounts in Windows XP). Other older operating systems have other possibilities. This subject is best covered in detail from File Sharing Under Windows XP: Older Operating Systems, and from the referential Microsoft white paper File and Printer Sharing with Microsoft® Windows, which is available from the link provided in the latter article.

    If you’re using a client computer running Windows 98, trying to access a server running Windows XP, and you’re asked for the IPC$ password, the server needs the Guest account activated for network use.

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