NetBIOS Name Resolution
NetBIOS is an API and name resolution system originally developed by IBM that is common on Microsoft Windows networks. The NetBIOS name is the computer name you assign to your Windows computer. The NetBIOS computer name is used to identify the computer in Explorer and My Computer. NetBIOS was developed for networks that don't use TCP/IP. The NetBIOS name system is actually a little redundant on TCP/IP networks because the NetBIOS name serves a role that is similar to the role of the hostname. Microsoft de-emphasized NetBIOS in Windows 2000/XP and will probably continue to favor native TCP/IP name resolution in the future. By the time I write the fourth edition of this book, it might be time to scale back the coverage of NetBIOS name resolution. However, the installed base of NetBIOS-enabled computers is still so huge that no discussion of name resolution would be complete without some attention to NetBIOS.
Because NetBIOS operates through broadcasts, the user on a small network doesn't have to do anything to configure NetBIOS name resolution (other than setting up networking and assigning a computer name). On a larger network, though, NetBIOS is more complex. Large networks use NetBIOS name servers called WINS servers for NetBIOS name resolution. You can also configure a static LMHosts file (similar to the hosts file under DNS) for name resolution lookups. The following sections take a closer look at NetBIOS name resolution.