If you’ve ever installed Windows 98, you might remember the little Windows Logon dialog box presented to you when you first booted the PC. The main purpose of that logon box was to allow multiple users to share the same machine, with each given their own unique desktop environment if correctly configured. While the standard Windows Logon will allow you to connect to the Internet, it will not allow you to connect to shared folders or printers that may exist on another machine on your home network. In order to do that, your system will need the Client for Microsoft Networks Installed.
Without getting too detailed at this point, the Client for Microsoft Networks is the “client-side” of what makes Windows networking possible. In other words, this software allows a system like Windows 98 or XP to connect a shared folder on another PC. If it is not installed, the client will simple not be able to connect to those resources. Your system may already have the Client for Microsoft Networks installed, especially if your PC included a network card when you purchased it.