Networking Vista and XP: Steps I Had to Take
We recently did some work on my wife's computer, including upgrading to XP SP3. I also wanted to get my home network functioning properly as desired as well. I don't usually write about windows, and probably won't write about windows again for some time: I don't have bad feelings about windows, because it usually works, but it's just not my main professional area of expertise.
The first issue was that Vista and XP have different protocols for home networks. Therefore XP had to be supplemented with a patch. (Supposedly Service Pack 3 has these new features included, but in my case it certainly did not.) So I first tried to simply download and install LLTD Link Layer Topology Discovery (KB922120) from microsoft.com (I was already familiar with this because I had previously had to do the same thing on a SP2 install) On the new computer, however, it was unsuccessful because the install script believes sp3 transcends the patch, which it doesn't... luckily one guy had managed to pull off the patch installations, and laid out the instructions perfectly, which I followed with success: http://x3webworx3.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!E40FC8E37C2475AE!234.entry
Then I uninstalled all antivirus products and turned off firewalls (which I'll have to put back one at a time later, carefully, in a way that I still allow file sharing)
After that I made sure the workgroup names were the same, and I wrestled for a while with sharing media and specific files... I finally was able to share media but not directories or files. When I followed microsoft.com's troubleshooting guide, including http://technet.microsoft.com/en-au/library/bb727037.aspx and other troubleshooting pages at microsoft.com, it seemed most of my network was functional but that the computer name was not being broadcast (the Vista computer was able to find the XP computer when it created a full network map, but it was not able to find the XP computer when I just clicked Start->Network).
Eventually I gave up and decided to try Microsoft tech support. I had only to click a button in the XP tech support section of microsoft.com (http://support.microsoft.com/select/default.aspx?target=assistance)
to start a chat, and I immediately got paired up with Manisha Pradhan in India, with no waiting. She or he (after asking a lot of questions) took control of both computers (with my permission) and did a great job of backchecking many things I'd checked, and then checking quite a few more items as well that I had not checked. We rebooted in safe mode, turned off the firewall service, created a Guest account on the Vista machine, and verified that the IP adapters had all the right options available and that they were checked on both machines (including Client for Microsoft Networks, File and Print Sharing for Microsoft Networks, Link Layer Topology Discovery Responder).
I don't know exactly which of those items was the missing link, but everything is working now. Great job, Manisha Pradhan of Microsoft tech support! (Of course it would be nice if sp3 properly offered LLTDR or Vista had a way around XP's lack of it in the first place... but maybe for some reason those options had hidden disadvantages.)
Looks like we have a home network again! Thanks to a few good blogs on the internet, and Microsoft Tech Support in India.