Update: The ZPanel site has moved to here to take advantage of Sourceforge hosting. See the comment below.
(Original post begins below.)
So you have this Windows machine, and you really have to have a server. It’s not necessary to spend thousands of dollars on all those fancy licenses and wade through complicated setup and maintenance procedures. You can get the stuff for free and works well enough.
With Linux, you’ll often hear of the LAMP stack — Linux, Apache webserver, MySQL database and PHP. There is also a WAMP stack, with pretty much the same stuff. While I still highly recommend Webmin for Linux, and it will work on Windows, it won’t work as well. There are fewer modules for Windows, and you’ll need a different collection of servers not covered by Webmin. So I recommend zPanel. It’s not as fancy and commercially slick as cPanel, but zPanel is free and it will get you past the worst of the configuration details.
You can find the zPanel documentation here. They used to offer a brief tutorial on setting up a server to run from your home, but their documentation is currently being rewritten (you can find several guides by others using your favorite search engine). If you want to see some older documentation, I highly recommend you see this video tutorial at YouTube because there were a few gotchas in the process. However, what might interest you the most is how zPanel installs Apache, MySQL, and hMailServer for you, and configures them for use. If you need to run an FTP server, it works best with FileZilla server, which is also free.
No, there is no Samba server setup, because Windows does file and printer sharing natively. Tutorials are all over the Net, and it only takes few minutes.