How to connect Windows XP and Windows Vista computers using Ethernet cable?

Defining computer and workgroup name and verifying the Ethernet adapter

1. Define computer and workgroup name for each computer.  In Windows XP and Windows Vista, you can do it on Computer Name tab of System Properties window. To open System Properties, right-click Computer in Start menu (Windows Vista) or My Computer (Windows XP)  and select Properties or open Control Panel and click System. Each computer name must be unique while the workgroup name must be the same with other computers in a LAN. If both computers run Windows Vista, having the same workgroup name is not mandatory but it will make the direct connection work faster. The default workgroup name is MSHOME in Windows XP Home Edition and WORKGROUP in Windows XP Professional and Windows Vista. You can leave it or change it, provided both computers have the same workgroup name. If you make a change, you'll have to restart your computer. 

Windows Vista : System Properties : define computer and workgroup name  Windows XP : System Properties : define computer and workgroup name

Picture: Defining computer name and workgroup name
from System Properties' Computer Name tab.

2. From the Device Manager, verify that the Ethernet adapters which are going to be used for the direct connection have been installed and enabled on both computers. In this demo, both adapters are Gigabit Ethernet. However, you can connect a Fast Ethernet (10/100BaseT) adapter on one computer to a Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000BaseT) adapter on another computer but this configuration can't reach the maximum speed of Gigabit Ethernet, i.e. 1 Gbps (1000 Mbps).

Windows Vista : Device Manager : Network adapters : Gigabit Ethernet NIC   Windows XP : Device Manager : Network adapters : Gigabit Ethernet adapter

Picture: Viewing the installed (Gigabit) Ethernet card/NIC from the Device Manager.

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