I'm going to focus on a single phrase in your original post and take it literally:
works like a simple microsoft network
You might want to look at a Howto I wrote on "Simple File Sharing in Mint 6" viewtopic.php?f=42&t=23169
Since Mint and Ubuntu share the same base this process should work for both ( as long as your using Gnome ) and is conceptually identical to the "Simple File Sharing" that is used in Windows. Everything you need is installed already as part of the base install. It does come with some restrictions so it depends on how sophisticated you want the network. This will allow the other machines to access shares on your linux box.NOTE: If you've done research on Samba the process I've described above will seem a little odd. After you create your share , for example, you will not find an entry for it in /etc/samba/smb.conf. That's because the share is defined in var/lib/samba/usershares. All of this is explained in the HowTo.
Accessing Windows shares from Linux is another story. It's been my experience that this is where most of the problems arise. Hopefully you can go to Computer > Network and it will find everything automatically but sometimes it doesn't. If you've configured your router to give all of the networked computers a static IP Address this will help if there are problems.
You don't need samba to have a networked computer access a printer installed on a linux box, you can use CUPS Server: Menu > Administration > Printing > Server > Settings
Select "publish shared printers connected to this system"
Then Menu > Administration > Printing > Right Click on your Mint Printer > Select "Shared"NOTE: You may have to open a terminal and type: sudo service cups restart just to make sure CUPS has all the new information.
To access that Linux printer from Windows use the "Add Printer Wizard". You can either browse for it or add it directly using \\192.168.0.101\HPMint for example
To access a Windows printer from Linux: Menu > Administration > Printing > New > Windows Printer via Samba > Browse.
If it can't find anything you may have to fill in the dialog box, for example: smb://192.168.0.100/HPWin
EDIT: There one more scenario I forgot in my original post.
To access a Linux Printer from another Linux box: Menu > Administration > Printing > New
If you're using Mint it should find it automatically after it does a network scan.
If not then select Other > In the Enter URI box enter: ipp://192.168.0.101:631/printers/HPMint