Once you’ve set up a homegroup using Windows 7/8/10 on your network, the next step is to tweak it so that all old computers can find each other. All computers running Windows 7 and later will easily be able to join a homegroup simply by using a password, but if you have computers running older versions of Windows on your network, you will have to put them in the same workgroup.
If Windows XP computers are part of your network, it is important to use the same workgroup name for all computers on your network. This allows computers running different versions of Windows to discover and access each other. Remember that the default workgroup name is not the same across all versions of Windows. 99% of the time it is just WORKGROUP, but if it isn’t, be sure to change it to this.
Create a working group
To find or change the workgroup name on a Windows XP-based computer, click Start, right-click My Computer, and select Properties.
In System Properties, click the Computer Name tab to see the workgroup name. If it’s not a workgroup, click Edit and enter a new name in the Workgroup section.
On Windows 7/8/10, you can check the workgroup by going to Control Panel and clicking “System”. Below you will see the name of the working group.
Basically, the key to adding XP computers to a Windows 7/8/10 homegroup is to make them part of the same workgroup as those computers. However, you will run into problems when trying to access your Windows XP computer from Windows 7/8/10 or vice versa. Don’t worry, troubleshooting will fix this.
Troubleshoot Windows XP network problems
The first problem I ran into was when I went to My Computer, clicked Network Neighborhood, and then clicked View Workgroup Computers, I got the following error:
Workgroup unavailable . Service is not started.
This got me googling and I tried a whole host of solutions including disabling the firewall, trying to start the computer’s browser service, enabling NetBIOS, etc. While these items should work as expected, they were definitely not causing the problem. First, follow all directions in this Microsoft support article to make sure you cover the basics.
Once you have done that, try connecting from your Windows XP computer to your Windows 7/8/10 computer by opening Explorer and entering the network path as shown below:
In my case, the \ AseemVostro computer is a Windows 10 computer. Oddly enough, although I get an error when I clicked on the View Workgroup Computers link, I was able to access the shared folders on my Windows 10 computer. Windows 10 logs in using a Microsoft account, so when it asks for a username and password, I entered my email and password and it worked.
Also, when trying to connect to the XP machine from Windows 10, I kept trying to enter the username and password for my local account on the XP machine, but it just couldn’t connect. This finally worked after I did two things. First, I clicked on the “Set up a home or small office network” link that you see in the screenshot above. I went through the wizard, making sure to call the working group WORKGROUP.
Second, I first connected to the Windows 10 machine from Windows XP. Once I did that, I was able to connect to my XP machine from Windows 10 without any problems. If you run into problems feel free to leave comments and I will try to help. Also, be sure to check out my complete guide to troubleshooting homegroups in Windows Enjoy!