Long gone are the days of simple network setups and how much we miss them. Recently we had a client whom network setup went completely kaput after a Windows update. For some unknown reason the client’s network went completely haywire. The users within their office can no longer map any specific hard drives which are shared on the network nor see any computers/workstation which are part of Active Directory.

The setup for this network is very straight forward. The client is using Windows Server 2003 64-bit Enterprise edition with Active Directory/DHCP enabled.

Until now all their workstations were running Windows XP Professional with SP3 and they had asked us to upgrade all of these workstations to Windows 7 64bit Professional. So over this past holiday(Memorial Day 2010) weekend something went extremely wrong with their network setup. When employees got back to the office on Tuesday they could no longer see anything on their network, no printers, no servers, no shared directories and no workstations within the network.

So we were totally confused as to why this would happen. While investigating this particular situation we came across two workstation one which was still running Windows XP and another running Ubuntu 10.04. For some strange reason both of these PCs were still able to see everything and everyone within the network.

In our findings we discovered that Windows 7 somehow on its own changed from a Domain to a Work Group which is usually setup to network PCs whom are not part of a Domain, but why would Windows do such a thing. There should be no specific reason why this should change on its own unless an administrator switches the PCs manually.

After manually reconfiguring all the workstations to be part of the Domain again Windows 7 still cannot see any workstations, printers, shared directories or servers within the network. But the strange part about it is that they can access(and by access we mean just that not actually seeing it on the screen) things which were already mapped such as shared directories and drives. But any attempt to actually map or do a network search for a new drive or share directory does not work yet the workstations are now clearly part of the network Domain again because when we view the full network map on each workstation is shows that it is part of the domain. It goes to show that no matter how many pretty features you have on an Windows 7 or on any OS for that matter if you have a flawed system of performing updates and not taking into account the type of environments businesses might be using these updates will always create some kind of damage and failure.

I just hope for our clients sake that Microsoft did not pull one of their age old tricks and created a mess to make existing Windows 2003 server users upgrade to Windows Server 2008. That would really hurt our clients bottom line and this new version is not cheap.

But on a lighter note the users do like the Windows 7 Task bar.

If anyone has run in to a similar issue please let us know we would like to hear your situation.