windows server 2008 setup, domain or workgroup???

i have 4 laptops that have windows 7 home premium on them and cannot join domain.  i am setting up the server 2008 standard in workgroup mode right now because they do not care about permissions.  the problem is they have files on the server they want to access on their laptops like personal stuff that i will have on server.  how do i get offline files to work without the machines on the domain?  can offline files be setup? can i do folder redirection in a workgroup?  do i setup active directory in workgroup mode or do i leave it not installed? i have always setup a domain but all of their machines cannot join domain.

should i just to make my life easier make them buy win 7 pro for each laptop?  then i can setup sync center with offline files and what they do offline will sync with the server when they come back on the network? also then i can setup folder redirection.

All they need the server for is quickbooks and office files.  they take their laptops home and to the office.  All their shares neeed to sync when they come back in.  any help would be great.  
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Robin CMSenior Security and Infrastructure EngineerCommented:
I suggest investigating Microsoft InTune - ideal for laptops, and as part of the low monthly fee you get upgrades to Windows 7 Enterprise.
Then you can go for Active Directory and "do things properly".
bowlerman25Author Commented:
so the real way still to do this is join them all to a domain?
also if i keep the server in a workgroup, do i still setup server with active directory or do i not?
10 Tips to Protect Your Business from Ransomware

Did you know that ransomware is the most widespread, destructive malware in the world today? It accounts for 39% of all security breaches, with ransomware gangsters projected to make $11.5B in profits from online extortion by 2019.

Robin CMSenior Security and Infrastructure EngineerCommented:
Right now it probably doesn't matter. But ideally your medium to long term plan should be to have all PCs/laptops joined to an active directory, and therefore you might as well make it a domain controller.
Have you already bought a Server 2008 licence? If not, check out the Small Business Server product, for low numbers of users it gives you a lot for you money.
bowlerman25Author Commented:
i just upgraded all the computers from 7 home prem to 7 pro with the anytime upgrade.

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
bowlerman25Author Commented:
i gave the answer
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Windows Server 2008

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.