If your Windows XP system is part of a network, then you’re probably already familiar with the concept of using it as a network client or server. In simple terms, a server is any system to which other network systems connect for the purpose of sharing resources like files or printers, while a client is the system asking for access to those resources. So, referring to XP as a “server” in some situations is absolutely correct, even though the operating system is optimized for use as a desktop.
On large business networks, server functions are typically handled by operating systems like Windows NT, Windows 2000 Server, or Windows Server 2003. Unfortunately, each of these operating systems is prohibitively expensive, especially for home and small office users. Because of this, many companies choose to leverage their systems running Windows XP for file and print serving functions – the load from such activities will typically be low, so having the system act as both a desktop and server simultaneously is usually not a big deal. While using XP as a file server for 8-10 users can be taxing on an XP system without lots of RAM or a fast CPU, acting as a print server on the same network is well within XP’s capabilities. This month we take a closer look at how to configure Windows XP as a print server, and how to make it support not only Windows 2000 and XP printing clients, but also systems running older versions of Windows (now referred to as “downlevel” versions) such as Windows 95/98/ME. The good news is that configuring XP as a robust print server is easier than you think, but there are a few potential issues that you’ll need to look out for