Shared Folder Permissions for Allowing Friends to Access Files

I currently attend a university, and a lot of my friends want to copy files I have. I'm looking to make shared folders on Vista that are accessible to be to whom I give an account. I've set up this separate local account on my computer, and given that account read-only permission on each of the four folders I'm trying to share. When I'm on my friends computer, under some random account name, I see my computer on the network, and the four folders, but trying to open them gives a "don't have that permission" error, before a login screen ever allows him to login. I have about 8-10 friends I'm trying to set up here. If I make the folders non-password protected, everyone can locate them, but I don't want to do that, because I have limited bandwidth and don't want to get in trouble because people were downloading from my PC all day. I know that if I added each of these friends usernames to my own PC's list of users, they would be able to access the files, but that's a major pain in the ass. Why is a login screen not popping up when my friends map to my computer and try to open folders? The one central account they all know the name / password for is the route I want to go.
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More about shared folder permissions allowing friends access files
  1. Map a network drive from their computer to the share folders on your computer (as opposed to 'browsing' the network) that you want them to access:

    My Computer -> Tools -> Map Network Drive

    //YOURCOMPUTERNAME (or IP)/share path

    One redeeming quality about Vista is that it will tell you exactly what the share path is after you create it in the event you're not sure.

    On the screen that allows you to map drives there is an option that says 'connect using a different username'. Enter the username and password of the account you created on your Vista system:

    YOURCOMPUTERNAME\account name

    This will map the drive using the credentials of the account found on your Vista system as opposed to whatever account they are currently logged into on their systems. If security has been setup correctly on the Vista network shares, they should now be able to log in with read only permissions.

    Note* When you create a network share it is viewable by everyone browsing the network. While they might not have access to it, they can still see it is there. To prevent this, when you name your network share end it with a $. This will hide the share from 'network browsers' but can still be mapped by people who know it is there.

    ie: \\MYCOMPUTER\share <---- viewable by all people browsing the network.
    \\MYCOMPUTER\share$ <---- hides the share from people browsing the network.
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