Networks have been around since the early days of computing— even before the PC appeared on the scene. After all, the importance of networking—to share information and manage a computing environment—was evident even when computers used vacuum tubes and filled an entire room. The computing world has changed drastically since then, and it continues to rapidly change and evolve as networking and computing technology continues to grow.
Microsoft designed Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home Edition with networking in mind, although Windows XP Professional is considered the networking platform. With the tools Windows XP Professional provides, you can use it in a small network or in a network with thousands of computers.
Before getting too far ahead, let’s first consider some networking background information and review all that Windows XP has to offer. If you have a limited amount of experience with networking, this chapter serves as a great primer. If you are experienced with Windows networks, this chapter serves as a review as well as a guide to Windows XP.
Windows Networking Concepts
Like any complicated process, getting your feet on solid ground from the start is always important. Networking does
not have to be terribly complicated, but depending on your needs, it certainly can be. As a starting point, it is a good idea to get some solid ideas and definitions in your mind, which will make networking easier to understand as you move forward.
What Is a Network?
If you ask 10 people, “What is a network?” you are likely to get 10 different responses. After all, the simple concept of a network has a lot of implications. A technical guru might answer, “A network is a communication mechanism between two or more computers using a common protocol.”
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