The various applications, and the many system processes that you see (and some that you don't) all depend upon a third group of programs, called services. Services run independently of who is logged in to a computer; most services start when the computer is started, not after login.
Windows Networking depends heavily upon half a dozen key services, and these services depend upon the presence of key networking components. Depending upon the role played by any computer, it may require some, or all, of these components and services, to work properly.
Most computers in a workgroup will be running as both a client and as a server. All computers using Windows Networking, and not using an alternate transport, should have:
- "Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)", in the network items list in Local Area Connection - Properties.
- "TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper" service running - Started and Automatic.
- "Windows Firewall / Internet Connection Sharing (ICS)" service (for SP2 systems), or "Internet Connection Firewall / Internet Connection Sharing (ICS)" service (for pre-SP2 systems) running - Started and Automatic.
- "Client for Microsoft Networks", in the network items list in Local Area Connection - Properties.
- "Workstation" service running - Started and Automatic.
- "File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks", in the network items list in Local Area Connection - Properties.
- "Server" service running - Started and Automatic.
Any computer accessing or providing shared data (and running as a client, or as a server) will require a computer running the "Computer Browser" service somewhere on the network, to browse for other computers and services, and to be visible to other computers browsing for its services. The "Computer Browser" service will only run on a computer that runs both the "Server" and "Workstation" services (and runs both as a client, and as a server).
If your LAN has a DHCP server (NAT router or dedicated server), and you want this computer to have automatic address assignments, make sure that the DHCP Client service is running - Started and Automatic. To provide networked access to the registry on any computer, and to allow browstat to access the registry, the Remote Registry service must be running. That service isn't available on computers running XP Home, making an "Error 53" normal, when running "browstat status".
When you have a problem with Windows Networking, and you've verified that all computers are physically and logically connected, run CPSServ on each computer, and compare the results from each. CPSServ will identify each key service, and tell you which ones aren't running. In some cases, this will provide clues to your problems.