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CIT 361: Week 13

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Must we really contend with NetBIOS and WINS? Unfortunately, yes we must, because there are still far too many networked computers in various companies and organizations that require these capabilities. Thankfully, as time goes on more and more of these old relics are being replaced and soon we can consign NetBIOS and WINS to the rubbish heap of computing history were they belong. Pages 539-544 cover the "why" of implementing these protocols while the remainder of the chapter covers the "how" aspects.

A key concern to remember is that NetBIOS and NetBEUI are broadcast technologies, therefore they do not route across subnet boundaries without help and WINS, Windows Internet Name Service (pages 552-554) is the protocol designed to make them routable. Actually, Microsoft originally designed WINS as a proprietary alternative to DNS in the hopes of supplanting the TCP/IP protocol suite for general Internet use but failed in that attempt. WINS is probably the main reason these protocols still need to be considered by network administrators. In the late 1980s and early 1990s many people assumed that anything Microsoft backed would succeed, therefore various applications were developed that relied on WINS instead of DNS and some of these are still in use today. So, if your organization uses any of these old apps your stuck with NetBIOS and WINS. My own opinion is that you should try to replace the old apps and these almost obsolete protocols as soon as possible to save yourself and everybody else a lot of grief. Unfortunately, the mentality that came up with "if it ain't broke don't fix it" makes this difficult.

There is one other increasingly less common reason to keep these protocols and that is the use of pre-Windows 2000 computers on your network. If you still have Windows 95, 98, or NT computers then you need to keep NetBIOS and the rest of this ilk.

My mother always said "if you can't say anything nice then don't say anything at all" but I have already broken this rule so I will end my jaundiced comments here and let the authors' somewhat less negative discussion prevail. As always there is plenty of material covered in this chapter even if it is fast becoming obsolete, so post your comments, ideas, and questions in the current discussion.