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. The browser provides the contents of Network Neighborhood. For all computers to see the same computers displayed in Network Neighborhood, there can be only one authoritative computer - the master browser. Selection 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 it's newer, you'll probably use a computer running Windows XP more. The browser infrastructure is much more stable, when using a computer that's online constantly.

    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. Once you get past the issue of seeing what's available on the LAN, you'll want to access what's available.
    • 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 covered in detail in the referential Microsoft white paper File and Printer Sharing with Microsoft� Windows.
    • 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.
    • A computer running Windows 9x will use either Guest authentication, or it will use non-Guest authentication, at your discretion. But understand the differences.
    • Windows 95 / 98 clients will have a problem with (KB160843): share names with more than 12 characters.
    • Computers running Windows 95 / 98, and computers running Windows 2000 / XP, will happily use LM Authentication when starting a sharing session. Unfortunately, LM Authentication is not as secure as its successors, NTLM and NTLM V2. If you involve Windows Vista, you'll have a problem, since Windows Vista, by default, only uses NTLM V2.

  • More information:

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