Windows 2008 Server shared folders don't appear on Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

I just setup a brand new out of the box Windows 2008 server in an environment with 10 Mac desktops running Snow Leopard 10.6. There are also a some Windows PCs but they are not of concern at this point.

The server initially was setup as a file sharing server and that’s it.  No activate directory or DNS. WORKGROUP was the workgroup name and there was a single shared folder created to store documents. With this configuration the Macs would see the server in the finder side bar and also when selecting “connect to server” and then clicking browse.  The problem was that the connection wasn’t reliable. After 30 minutes or so some of the Macs could connect to the server anymore, reporting that it couldn’t connect, the IP couldn’t be found etc.  Keep in mind that if I try to connect by the IP smb:// it would always work but connecting through the netbios name in the finder wouldn’t.  If I reboot the Mac it would again see the server but I don’t want to have to reboot every 30 minutes.

So I enabled activate directory and the DNS server feature on the server. I ran DC Promo and set the server as a domain controller.  Now the server does not appear at all in the finder side bar or when browsing through “connect to server”.  I currently have the users connecting to the share via a shortcut on their desktop which connects them via the smb:// path. This works consistently but I would like to know how to get the server to show up in the finder side bar without having to map it manually via IP.

There are no security requirements, other servers, firewalls , user profiles etc in the setup. Simply, a file server that has the share provided to all the computers. One username/password is used by all users to connect to the share. There is a Verizion DSL modem which is the DHCP server.

Any suggestions?
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The file server no longer appears because it sounds like your macs are no longer in the same security domain (AD domain).  Activating and setting up AD excluded your macs.

You can add them into the domain by binding them (the macs) through the account tab on their system preferences.  They will then see the server again in the sidebar.

You could also set up domain log ons to the macs once this is done and mount the share automatically as a home folder.
The other option is to do a one time server mount and them add this to the login items for each mac - but it sounds like you have already got that far.
djadambombAuthor Commented:
I had thought about binding the Macs to the domain controller but I didn't want to change the way the users login. I don't want to create them AD user accounts with home folders etc for each user. It was must understanding that as soon as the computer is joined to the domain that their login screen will change and they will need an AD user account to login to the computer.  Am I wrong about this? Can I join them to the domain and still have them continue to login using their local user account so they retain access to all their user data on that machine?
Yes you can bind to the domain and still log on with local user accounts as long as the shortname on the local computer does not match the username on the domain.  Even if you do match the usernames there is still a way to keep the local folder.
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