Ramblings of a Home Server User

February 16, 2009

Review: Windows 7 Beta – Part 2 – HomeGroup

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 12:30 am

Welcome to Part 2 of my Windows 7 Beta review. In Part 2, I’ll discuss HomeGroup, a new feature aimed at home users wanting to share files and devices on the home network.

Windows 7 has a new feature called HomeGroup. HomeGroup was slated to be in Windows Codename Longhorn (what is now Vista), under the name “Castle.” However, this feature was cut along with many others in 2005 when Microsoft reset development on the Longhorn project. HomeGroup as I like to put it “helps keep sharing simple.” With HomeGroup, you can share documents, pictures, videos, and printers on your network. (Yes, I said printers.) This is shaping up to be a pretty cool feature. HomeGroup requires that all PCs in the group be running Windows 7. From my understanding at this time, and this could change, but it’s looking like there will not be support for HomeGroup features in Windows Vista or Windows XP.  What’s cool about HomeGroup is that everything is shared without using traditional usernames and passwords. All that happens is that when a PC asks to join the HomeGroup they are prompted for the HomeGroup password, and that’s it. The thinking behind this is two-fold. First, the design calls for simplicity, and using a single password for all machines in the group, keeps things simple. Second, since joining a HomeGroup is an “opt-in” feature, the user will want their PC to be a member of the group, and will participate in sharing with other members of the group. HomeGroup has some great potential. Families can share their music, pictures, and video collections with each other, across PCs, and across users. Kids that are working on their research papers can access the printer in the den, all without having to worry about how to add a network printer. I’m sure there are other uses that I’m forgetting right now, but there are definitely many reasons and many uses for HomeGroup. Let’s take a little walkthrough of HomeGroup in all its glory.

By default, during the Out-of-Box-Experience (OOBE) you’ll be asked if you want to create a HomeGroup, or if you’ve already setup a HomeGroup and are adding a new PC to the network, you’ll be asked to join an existing HomeGroup. If you don’t create or join a HomeGroup at OOBE, you can create one through Control Panel or any Windows Explorer window, just by clicking on HomeGroup in the Folders pane. If you want to try out HomeGroup follow these easy steps.

1. Click on Start –> Computer and then in the Computer window click on HomeGroup in the Folder pane

HomeGroup1

2. Click on the Create Now button, and select the types of content you wish to share, then click Create Now.

HomeGroup2

3. After your HomeGroup is created, make note of the password. You’ll need it to add other PCs to the group. After you’ve made note of the password, click Finish to close the window.

HomeGroup3

 

Steps to perform on subsequent PCs:

1. Click on Start –> Computer and then in the Computer window click on HomeGroup in the Folder pane

HomeGroup4

2. Click on Join Now, and when prompted enter the HomeGroup password, then click Next and then click Finish.

HomeGroup5

Welcome to your HomeGroup! You can now browse pictures, music, videos, documents, and printers on your home network.

HomeGroup6  

Each PC will show up under the HomeGroup category by User Name and the machine they’re on, and you can then browse through and find what you’re looking for.

HomeGroup is a great feature and I think it has it’s place in the home. Hopefully we can see HomeGroup support in a future version of Windows Home Server. That would make me really happy. 🙂

Tune in tomorrow for Part 3 – Device Stage.

-Tom

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2 Comments »

  1. […] […]

    Pingback by Homegroup through router - Windows 7 Forums — February 22, 2009 @ 6:31 pm

  2. How do I join Windows 7 Homegroup from Windows XP. I installed Windows 7 RC on my laptop, and my desktop has Windows XP. I can share/see the files in my desktop from my laptop, but my desktop (windows xp) cannot join the homegroup in windows 7. (There is no ‘join homegroup’ option in windows xp).

    Comment by Mac — June 22, 2009 @ 10:09 pm


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