Chapter 12. Old Names: Understanding NetBIOS, WINS, and NetBIOS over TCP/IP
It's time to look at the "old" names in detail. So, let me pick up where the last chapter left off. I'm stretching a point a bit here, but I could say that cars and planes are just different ways of solving the same problem: transportation. In the same way, various network vendors over the years have tackled the same problem and come up with different solutions. In particular, Microsoft has, as you've already read, built its network applications atop a network API called the Network Basic Input-Output System (NetBIOS) that first appeared on a product from a company called Sytek and that was later promoted and expanded by IBM and Microsoft. The Internet world, on the other hand, has used a different network API called sockets. In the Microsoft world, we call our special version of sockets Winsock.
NetBIOS and Winsock
Recall that the value of an API is that it separates your network applications from your network vendor — you needn't buy your network operating system from the same people you bought your network fax software from. For example, if you buy a network fax application designed for a network API named NetBIOS, you should be able to run that network fax application on any network at all, so long as the network supports the NetBIOS API. Over time, we've seen a number of seemingly dissimilar networks that all sported NetBIOS as their API, including Lantastic, OS/2 LAN Server, LAN Manager, HP's LM/UX, ...