Not necessary to wipe all PC's clean. Should work with existing XP, Vista and Windows 7.
And I certainly wouldn't complicate things by using an Active Directory server and Domains.
Just give all PC's the same workgroup name and it should work.
Things you can consider:
- use NAS (network attached storage) for sharing files. That's a hard disk with an Ethernet controller that connects to the router.
- use a printer that connects to the router also. That way, it can be used by any PC without relying on the PC it's connected to being started.
Few friends moved at my place for a while and we'd like to make a home network so we can play games, share files, use the same printer, etc. What is the best way to do this if I start from scratch?
All PCs will be wiped clean, I'll install Windows XP on all of them... and then what? Do I need to make a local domain or Workgroup is fine? I can dedicate one old machine to be a Domain Controller with Active Directory for them, but does it give anything more than storing usernames/passwords on one place? We are just 5 guys/PCs and 2 printers so is there any benefit from using DC?