If you are trying to connect the desktop to the laptop just so you can access each computer from each, you will have to setup a 'local area network' on each.
You first have to check the hardware. Both computers should be connected to a router or to each other via ethernet cable. Make sure connections are secure.
To confirm if there is physical connection, get the ip address of each computer.
1. Go to Start>run. Type in "cmd" without the quotes. Hit ok.
2. In the command prompt, type in "ipconfig". take note of the ip address for each. If it starts with 169, that means there's is no physical connection. Check your cabling or tell me, how you have it setup. Otherwise, you're good.
Second, setup the software. I am assuming, both computers run on Windows XP.
Do this on each computer.
1. Go to control panel. Go to "network and internet connections".
2. Click on 'Network Setup Wizard' on the left pane.
Check these screenshots.
Follow the screenshots and do the following.
Take note of the computer name that you will enter for each computer. You must make sure that the Workgroup Name is the same for both computers. It doesnt matter what name you enter or if you leave the default as long as both computers have the same workgroup name.
Now, that you have connected them, you have to create a portal for each computer to access the other.
1. Go to computer1. Right click on a blank area on your desktop wallpaper. Left click on new>shortcut. type in \(ip address of computer 2. it should look like something like this ---> \192.168.1.3
Put the computer name of computer2 in the shortcut name box.
Try to open it. It should open the shared folders in computer2.
Repeat this process on computer2, entering the ip address and name of computer1 this time.
This will let you access the folders stored on each computer from the other. Be sure to share the folder you want to access remotely.
If you want to access 'my documents' in computer1 from the other computer, Go to computer1, right click 'my documents' and click sharing. check the box to enable sharing.
Do the same thing on any folder you want to share on the originating computer.