|The easiest way to do this is use a router. Router's have a built in DHCP server, which will configure all the computers with IP addresses, subnet masks, etc. as long as they're configured to obtain IP address automatically, which is the default for windows computers.|
Since most routers come with only 4 ports, you need to either get a router with an 8 port switch built in, or purchase an additional switch to connect to the router using a crossover cable.
The computers will connect to the router's LAN port and the switch using regular CAT5 patch cable, NOT a crossover.
Some routers and switches are smart enough to detect the use of the wrong cable (crossover or patch), and correct it within themselves, just FYI. I would look for that feature.
This switch works surprisingly well and cheap, too!
If you don't want to use a router, it is possible the machines will automatically configure themselves using APIPA, but in my experience, you may have problems doing that. Be prepared to know how to manually set the IP address and subnet mask should you choose to go that route.