To see other machines on a Win network, you need the samba client, not the samba server. To connect to other machines, the smbclient command will take care of you. Typing
in a terminal will give you all the options. Basically you need to specify what machine and directory you want to look at, and also most times a username and pass. I don't know if there are GUI shortcuts, but back when I did care about such things, I think if you put something like
in the address bar of konquerer it would show the workgroups it was aware of.
Samba has absolutely no effect on your ability to get on the web. Regardless of the setup, samba is only needed to share files/printers and such. Not connectivity. See if you can ping your gateway, and if that fails, can you ping your own IP address?
I suggest uninstalling samba server, unless you are going to house files that should be shared across the network on your machine. To see shares on other machines, just use smbclient.