As explained earlier in this chapter, Windows is really only concerned with the connections directly attached to the computer, so building a network or connecting a computer to the Internet essentially involves hooking things up and then configuring the connections in the Network Connections window for each computer involved.
A peer-to-peer workgroup is comprised of two or more computers and the necessary networking hardware to connect them. Or, in broader terms, you'll need:
At least two computers, each presumably running Windows XP. Naturally, you can connect an XP system to one running any other networkable operating system (Windows 9x/Me, Windows NT/2000, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD, BeOS, Unix, etc.), but for the purposes of this book, we'll assume both machines are running Windows XP.
At least one Ethernet adapter installed in each computer. NICs are cheap and readily available, and are even built into most modern systems (anything capable of running XP, anyway).
If you're not sure what to get, just purchase a standard, Plug and Play 10/100 Ethernet adapter with an RJ45 connector (or an 802.11b/g-compliant card if you're going wireless). If you have a desktop system, get a PCI card; if you have a laptop, get a CardBus adapter. USB-to-Ethernet adapters are also available, and while they're easier to install (you don't have to take your desktop apart), they tend to be slower and more temperamental than the aforementioned ...