A Workgroup is a group created on a Windows PC to allow other devices on the same local or home network share various resources. A Workgroup can enable the sharing of printers and files. When you first setup a home network, the Windows operating system automatically creates a Workgroup for you.
That is very helpful for Windows to create a Workgroup for you but there is a small problem also. The older operating systems named this Workgroup MSHOME, and newer operating systems named the Workgroup WORKGROUP. Sounds confusing don’t you think?
But to share resources with other computers on the same network you definitely need to have the same Workgroup name. For example, you could easily network a Windows XP computer and a Windows Vista computer by making sure they had the same Workgroup name. If you don’t have the same Workgroup name there will be no network sharing available.
Lets see how to find your Workgroup name and change it.
Change The Workgroup Name in Windows XP
1. Go to the Start menu, right-click My Computer, and then choose Properties from the menu that pops up. You can also use a shortcut to the system properties box.
2. When the System Properties Box opens go to the Computer Name tab.
See the screenshot below. The Workgroup is called MSHOME.
3. To change the Workgroup name simply press on the change button.
4. Change the MSHOME name to WORKGROUP to suit all the other computers.
How To Change Your Workgroup Name in Windows Vista/Seven
1. Go to the Start menu, right-click My Computer, and then choose Properties from the menu that pops up. As shown in the screenshot below.
2. System Properties will open. The Workgroup name is displayed there, but to change the Workgroup name we need to press on the Advance system settings link on the left.
3. The Advanced system properties will open. Go to the computer name tab to see the Workgroup details.
4. To change the Workgroup name simply press on the change button.
Then Came A Homegroup
A workgroup let computers on the same network share files and printers without too much hassle. You just needed to be in the same workgroup.
Later Windows Seven releases and Windows 8 now use a HomeGroup for file and printer sharing. The workgroup still exists but a homegroup seems to have more security. For example to join a Workgroup you only needed to be on the same network and have the same workgroup name. With a homegroup, you all need to same password to even join the same homegroup.
Some starter editions and basic versions of Windows only allow you to join a homegroup but not create one so it really depends on the operating system you have installed. I created a homegroup on a Windows Ultimate computer and all other basic operating systems on the network could then join in.
The question is now…Do we still need a Workgroup when we now have Homegroups?