We'll be using apache: very popular, free, open source server software.
While making your computer into a server will be very quick, you should read through the Apache http server software documentation to learn about how to set it up securely (so that people don't hack into your computer). I'll give this advice but read elsewhere for more:
1) best to install this server software on an old computer that you don't use for anything other than as a server.
2) best to create a seperate user account in windows with limited system access and install this software in that account.
If you want to do this on linux instead of windows (more secure, slightly more complicated) the best combination would be puppy linux and xamp for the server software. Puppy linux can be loaded off a usb jump drive or a CD, so you don't need to uninstall windows, just boot the computer with one of those. Here's easy setup videos for puppy linux: http://rhinoweb.us/
See this instructable for how to install xamp once you have puppy linux (or some other linux) working:
Step 1: Download Apache Server Software
_Or_ go to http://www.apache.org/, navigate to the download from mirrors page, pick a mirror and download from there. As you can see from the above link, you'll want to navigate to the mirror's apache, httpd, binaries, win32 folder.
What To Download:
= You should download the newest version (highest version number), it's 2.2.6 as I type this. Check here to see what the newest version is if you want: http://httpd.apache.org/
= You want the .msi file, this is a windows installation file (like an .exe)
Step 2: Install It
It should automatically fill in some form boxes with your DNS server name (in my case it was earthlink.net) during the installation.
for server name, put whatever you want, I don't think spaces are allowed though. and make sure after your name you have .earthlink.net (or whatever DNS name is).
for email, put in your email (or don't doesn't matter much).
Step 3: Run It
if you get an error message when you try to start the server write down the error# and look it up in the documentation or google.
Step 4: Test It
into the address bar, this should show up (see pic).
Yay, it works, now do something useful with it (will be covered in future instructables,.. maybe)
Step 5: Change the webpage
After you've edited the index.html file you should be able to access that index.html from any other computer on the web by typing in your server's IP address. If your ISP (internet service provider) uses static IP addresses you just type in the IP address every time to access your page. But if your ISP uses dynamic IP addresses you'll need to look up your server's IP address each time you disconnect/reconnect it to the web. There are free services that will do this for you: DNS2Go or dyndns.org..
Here are some useful references: