About Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a standardized protocol that enables clients to be dynamically assigned with various configuration parameters, such as an IP address, subnet mask, default gateway, and other critical network configuration information. DHCP servers centrally manage such configuration data, and are configured by network administrators with settings that are appropriate for a given network environment. DHCP servers in turn communicate with DHCP clients through the use of DHCP messages.

DHCP has many associated documents that standardize the protocol, and the messages DHCP clients and servers use to communicate their requests and data. These standardization documents can be found on the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) website, located at www.ietf.org

The following are some relevant Request For Comments (RFC) documents associated with DHCP, which include definitions for DHCP messages such as INFORM, and others:

  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (RFC 2131)
  • Interoperation Between DHCP and BOOTP (RFC 1534)
  • Clarifications and Extensions for the Bootstrap Protocol (RFC 1542)
  • DHCP Options and BOOTP Vendor Extensions (RFC 2132)
  • Procedure for Defining New DHCP Options (RFC 2489)
  • DHCP Options for Service Location Protocol (RFC 2610)

There are additional RFCs associated with DHCP available on the IETF website. Also, note that standards efforts and specifications are subject to change. If you are interested in tracking specific or new standards efforts, you should consult the IETF website frequently.


The IPAutoConfigurationEnabled registry key does not work on Windows Vista and later operating systems.


DHCP Programming in Windows

Windows provides three APIs for programmatic configuration and information retrieval of DHCP parameters, both for DHCP clients and DHCP Servers. The three APIs available are the following:

API Description
DHCP Client API Enables application programmers to initialize, request, and clean up DHCP-specific client data for any given application.
DHCP Server Callout API Server functions used to hook into events generated by the Microsoft DHCP server.
DHCP Server Management API Server functions used to remotely administer and manage a Microsoft DHCP server.