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I posted a similar question on StackOverflow. Somebody suggested me to post similar question here and see if anybody can give me some insight.

From MSDN, I was told that NetBIOS is no longer supported starting from Windwos Vista. Sure enough, I can no longer see any NetBIOS name from the network properties.

However, when I am writing codes on my Windows 7, I still encounter NetBIOS names in many places. For example

  1. I can still use "MYDOMAIN\Harvey" to logon my machine, where I believe MYDOMAIN is a NetBIOS name.
  2. The environment variables COMPUTERNAME and USERDOMAIN are still NetBIOS names. I am expecting to see a DNS names here
  3. My SQL Server instance names coming up from my SQL Server Management Studio is still something like MYMACHINE\Instance1.

I am guessing Microsoft still maintains some pieces of it for backward compatibility. I want to understand how Windows 7 going to resolve the NetBIOS name to an IP address. I found this article explaining how the NetBIOS name resolution works. I am afraid this is no longer true for Windows 7. At least there is no WINS server for me. Can somebody explain to me how the Windows 7 do the NetBIOS name resolution?

UPDATE If the protocol is gone, how does the NetBIOS name resolution happens? Does it still talk to WINS? If yes, is it still using NetBIOS protocol to talk to WINS?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

"NetBIOS" the protocol (NBF) is gone, long replaced by NBT, CIFS, etc. "NetBIOS" as part of the name of other things still exists.

Windows still has an embedded WINS server, even if there's no dedicated WINS server on the network.

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Thanks. If the protocol is gone, how does the NetBIOS name resolution happens? Does it still talk to WINS? If yes, is it still using NetBIOS protocol to talk to WINS? Sorry, I think this is the main part that I want to know. I updated my question to include this. –  Harvey Kwok Jan 20 '11 at 19:10
    
Not supported and gone are two different things. NBT is very much a part of the Windows OS up to and including W2K8 and Windows 7. In addition, NBT is enabled by default. –  joeqwerty Jan 20 '11 at 19:15
    
@joeq thanks for clearing up the difference between NetBIOS protocol and the NetBIOS itself –  Harvey Kwok Jan 20 '11 at 19:26

NETBIOS over TCP/IP is most certainly still supported in Windows Vista and above. You can see this in the TCP/IP settings on your adapter. There is still a spot to add WINS server addresses. We're running multiple WINS servers here on campus and all of our clients still use them. That said, DNS is the modern/preferred named resolution method, however NETBIOS is still around for compatibility with legacy applications and/or networks.

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Rather than try to rehash what's well documented elsewhere....read http://www.jacco2.dds.nl/samba/smb.html

(NetBIOS still exists - NETBEUI is gone)

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More observation than answer...

I did a trace once on a machine that had WINS disabled, DNS disabled and NetBios over TCP/IP enabled. A query for a name in the same network, generated a single broadcast, answered by the local Browse Master. With that Browse Master turned off, the client sent X (can't remember but it was >=10) broadcasts before another client responded. And when a query was made for a machine on another network, the client broadcast 100 queries and then received a response from a machine in that second network. Netbios must have a mechanism for forwarding requests between networks.

NetBios is very resilient and might be picking up the slack more often than people know (like on networks with WINS disabled or DNS is misconfigured).

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