Workaround and associated faulty behaviour:
1. You can log onto a Windows share by typing smb://xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx (the IP address of the machine which has the Windows share) in the text based location bar.
2. While connected to the share as in 1, create a bookmark for the share Ctrl+D. This creates two bookmarks: one in the Nautilus window, and the other one in the drop-down menu for Places.
3. The bookmark in the Nautilus window works. Teach your users to use it!
4. The bookmark in Places drop-down menu returns the message: "Could not open location 'smb://172.19.53.101/' No application is registered as handling this file. I guess this is an associated bug.
5. Smb4K, with occasional crashes, seems to work most of the time for browsing the network.