I suggest you treat your problem as two separate issues. The first is
configuring a Local Area Network (LAN) with file sharing. The second
is configuring the wireless communication links.
set up a "wired" LAN that performs as desired before trying to
integrate the wireless links into your LAN. Hopefully you could do
this with the desktop computer, one or both of the notebooks, and the
wireless router. Does the wireless router have four hard wired LAN
ports that function as a switch?
While they don't address the
wireless component of your problem, The following Microsoft documents
(downloads) are excellent resources for understanding and
troubleshooting Windows XP file and printer sharing: File and Printer Sharing with Microsoft Windows
Troubleshooting File and Printer Sharing in Microsoft Windows XP
There's quite a bit of redundant information, so you may want to start with the second document.
I'm not a fan of "wizards". When they work, you're very happy. When
they don't work, you're very unhappy (and don't have a clue how to
proceed). Setup the file sharing manually. The documents above
essentially provide a tutorial to do that.
When you cannot see all of the server computers on the network in My
Network Places or Network Neighborhood, the solution depends on whether
you have successful network connectivity.
To check whether you have basic network connectivity from the browse client to the missing server computer, do the following:
1. Click Start, and then click Run.
2. In Open, type \\ComputerName (in which ComputerName is the name of the missing server computer), and then press ENTER.
you get a window that displays the shared resources of the missing
server computer, then you have basic network connectivity to the
missing server computer. If you get an error message stating that the
network path was not found, then there is a problem with basic network
connectivity to the missing server computer.
If you have
successful network connectivity to the missing server computer but you
do not see it in the workgroup window, then it could be due to one of
o The missing computers are configured with different workgroup name
o The browse servers do not yet have all the computers in their browse lists
o The missing computers are not on the same physical network segment