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Windows Network Models

Exam: Microsoft 70-642 - Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure, Configuring

It is important to choose the right kind of network before it can actually be set up. It is a crucial decision for the success of a network. The choice of network determines how the computers and the servers are placed on the network. The article discusses in detail two network models that are used by Microsoft Windows.

Windows Peer-to-Peer Network

In a Microsoft Windows peer to peer network also known as a workgroup, all systems that are on a network are at the same level and are considered as equal. All computers perform both the roles of a client and a server. This type of network is suited for smaller networks with not more than 12 users.

Enhancements to Windows Peer-to-Peer Network

There are some enhancements that are a part of Windows Vista and Windows 7 for Windows peer-to-peer network. Discussing the enhancements briefly:

  • HomeGroup (Windows 7 only): This is an easy method for home users helping them to set up small workgroup environments. A workgroup based on a password can be set up using HomeGroup. When an attempt is made by other machines to establish connection with HomeGroup, the password has to be entered and the machine is accepted as a part of the network.
  • People Near Me: There are four main services that are provided by this feature

    • Finding the users that are on the same subnet;
    • Sending invitation to users on the same subnet;
    • Publication of Objects and
    • Management of Contacts by using Windows Address Book.

  • New Application Programming Interface: The API abilities for accessing Windows peer to peer networks has been simplified by Microsoft. It has also improved upon the abilities making creation of peer to peer applications much easier for developers.
  • Group Policy Configuration Support: Windows 7 and Vista allows setting up of a Group Policy for configuring Windows peer-to- peer networking settings.
  • New Version of Peer Name Resolution Protocol: Microsoft Windows 7 and Vista are inclusive of version 2 of Peer Name Resolution Protocol (PNRP). The version is preferred for it uses lesser amount of network bandwidth and is seen as more scalable.
Microsoft Windows peer-to-peer network

Microsoft Windows peer-to-peer network

There are some shortcomings of a peer to peer network. The entire data is stored on individual workstations and the security is controlled by the owner of the workstation. Every user wanting to log onto a machine must have a local username and password. The fact the network is limited to a maximum of 12 computers is another disadvantage. In addition to these the backups have to be done locally and the security is decentralized.