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I have no experience with networks but I'm running a school lab with 30+ stations. Most of them run Windows XP Home.

Could I possibly configure all users, permissions and access to course file shares from a new Windows Server?

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There's a program (authentication plugin) that you can add on home systems to let them join domains. I was looking into it for my church, I don't remember the name of it, sadly, and a quick search can't find it. Just wanted to post this note in case it's something you are interested in and can find. –  Jason Taylor Sep 20 '11 at 17:56
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Even if this kind of software exists, I would be wary and double check that this is allowed by MS' EULA. –  SvW Sep 20 '11 at 17:58

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Normally, you could do exactly what you want, but Windows XP Home is restricted in a way that doesn't allow it to become part of an (Active Directory) domain, which is necessary to manage users centrally.

Access to files via shares on the Win Server will work though, but you need to manually configure users on the client machines.

(BTW, the same is true for Win 7 Home or basic).

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