Far too many solo and small firm practices are hamstrung by inadequate computer networks — systems that lack a centralized network file server running a legitimate network operating system. Instead of using Microsoft’s Windows Server in its popular Small Business Edition, small firms often tap the minimalist networking capabilities of Windows XP Pro — the desktop operating system.

Windows XP Pro can connect several PCs in a configuration referred to as a peer-to-peer network, and can share documents on a mapped hard drive, accessible to all connected users. So what’s wrong with this picture?