WINS defined

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 8 Beta

WINS defined

Windows Internet Name Service (WINS) provides a distributed database for registering and querying dynamic mappings of NetBIOS names for computers and groups used on your network. WINS maps NetBIOS names to IP addresses and was designed to solve the problems arising from NetBIOS name resolution in routed environments. WINS is the best choice for NetBIOS name resolution in routed networks that use NetBIOS over TCP/IP.

NetBIOS names are used by earlier versions of Microsoft® Windows® operating systems to identify and locate computers and other shared or grouped resources needed to register or resolve names for use on the network.

NetBIOS names are a requirement for establishing networking services in earlier versions of Microsoft operating systems. Although the NetBIOS naming protocol can be used with network protocols other than TCP/IP, WINS was designed specifically to support NetBIOS over TCP/IP (NetBT).

WINS simplifies managing the NetBIOS namespace in TCP/IP-based networks. The following illustration shows a typical series of events involving WINS clients and servers.

WINS exemplified

In this example, the following occurs:

  1. A WINS client, HOST-A, registers any of its local NetBIOS names with WINS-A, its configured WINS server.

  2. Another WINS client, HOST-B, queries WINS-A to locate the IP address for HOST-A on the network.

  3. WINS-A replies with the IP address for HOST-A,

WINS reduces the use of local IP broadcasts for NetBIOS name resolution and enables users to locate systems on remote networks easily. Because WINS registrations are done automatically each time clients start and join the network, the WINS database is automatically updated when dynamic address configuration changes are made. For example, when a DHCP server issues a new or changed IP address to a WINS-enabled client computer, WINS information for the client is updated. This requires no manual changes to be made by either a user or network administrator.


  • The WINS protocol is based on and is compatible with the protocols defined for NetBIOS name service specified in RFCs 1001 and 1002, so it is interoperable with any other implementations of these RFCs.

  • Replication of NetBIOS names data in WINS is Microsoft proprietary technology and is not interoperable with other NetBIOS name servers.