An internet protocol enables reliable and efficient transmission of files over networks. They define the rule for handling data and communication over a specific networking environment. Individual protocols operate at specific layers within the OSI reference model, while a protocol suite works as a group of protocols designed to work together. Ideally, the Internet Protocol Suite is based on two important protocols, which include the Internet Protocol and the Transmission Control Protocol. By definition, the Internet Protocol Suite is a collection of layered network protocols that are used as the dominant network protocol across the Internet and in enterprise networks (Microsoft, n.d). The IPv4 and IPv6 are two of the available versions of IP, while TCP makes up the multiple important network services referred to as IP protocols and operating over IPv4 and IPv6. Initially, before the growth of the internet, several other network protocol suites were used for local intranets, but often relied on the size of the network or IT staff. Practically, computers using Microsoft Windows operating system have difficulty connecting to each other if they do not have the same set of networking protocols installed in all the computers on the network. A network protocol is a set of rules and procedures that allow computers to communicate and exchange data over a network. Windows supports several types of networking protocols; however, the backbone of its network operations are based on NetBEUI. The NetBIOS Extended User Interface is a specialized Microsoft protocol used to set up windows workgroups. The protocol enables small network users to share various resources such as printers and files across networks. Importantly noted, the protocol was popular with Windows 95/98 and Windows NT, and currently may not be considered the network protocol of choice. Notwithstanding, in order to get a comprehensive overview of what NetBEUI is, we explore further its purpose, establish how they worked, as well as the standards organization that governs their development.

NetBEUI Purpose

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A protocol is a language used to enable communication over a network. According to Clarke and Tetz, installing a network card and having the right target running is not enough if the network is not speaking the same language. Machines must be able to have a common language for them to communicate. When choosing the right protocol, a few things must be considered, but the bottom line is that it is important to install a similar protocol on all the computers. Originally, when IBM developed the Network BIOS Extended User Interface (NetBEUI) protocol, it was intended to be used on small networks (Clarke& Tetz, 2009). When Microsoft implemented the internet protocol, it was for the same purpose, to provide a channel to collect information from the Network Neighborhood for small networks consisting less than ten computers. Microsoft adopted the internet protocol to enable file and printer sharing between Windows 95/98, and Windows NT network operating systems and worked as the default protocol for Windows workgroups. Ideally, the protocol is easy to implement, has good performance, and has low memory requirements with self-tuning efficiency (Antonakos & Mansfield, 2009). For instance, if you had a small number of computers that needed networking in a workgroup-type setup and wanted to do this without having the trouble of configuring all kind of settings, then NetBEUI was the best internet protocol to use. The protocol did not require any configurations rather it just worked. Unfortunately, as with the advantages, the protocol also has various shortcomings. For instance, it is not routable, which means computers that are located on different networks cannot communicate. Nowadays, people have large networks of computers spanning some wide area networks with routers connecting different networks. Therefore, this internet protocol cannot be used in such environments that want to access the internet. Along with that, the internet protocol also comes with few support tools, proprietary, and insecure. In particular, as Cowart and Knittel (2008) point out, Microsoft no longer develops security updates for Windows 95/98 or Me, which explains why NetBEUI is insecure.

How NetBEUI Works

Protocols define the way data is arranged and sent in a coordinated manner between computers. TCP/IP are such protocols made up of several protocols used to provide the basis needed by high-level network components such as resolving computer names, IP addresses, data transmission, and routing. NetBEUI was designed by IBM to provide similar services to those of TCP/IP, except that it does not have the functionality to route data to remote networks. The protocols transport data between computers on the same physical location, without the necessity of a configuration. Ideally, as compared to NetBIOS and other protocols, NetBEUI is connected using bridges, and works by burning all bridges in order to reach the desired computer. Practically, it means that each computer is assigned a name, which is displayed in the network neighborhood directory listing. Of course, the name must meet NetBEUI naming standards, unique with a maximum of 15 characters and no space in between. As Cowart and Knittel elaborate, NetBEUI works like with the case of searching for someone in a crowded place. The fastest way to find them is to maybe stand up in a high position and shout their name. While this momentarily interrupts everyone around, it works instantly. In the same way, NetBEUI broadcasts requests to all the computers on the network in order to access the target computer. Unfortunately, this technique is not possible for computers spread out in a Wide Area network because it would mean transmitting every broadcast to every connected computer in order to access the target address.

Windows NT and Windows 2000 uses NetBEUI version 3.0 with enhanced functionalities slightly above the early versions of NetBEUI. With the Transport Driver interface, NetBEUI 3.0 eliminates the previous limitations of 254 sessions (Siyan, 2000). The newer version is also self-tuning with a higher performance over slow links due to its enhanced features of superior window sliding and timing mechanisms. Additionally, NetBEUI cannot be considered a NetBEUI but an NBF format protocol, because it is compatible with versions of NetBEUI shipped with earlier networking products from Microsoft.

Standard organizations that Govern NetBEUI development

Originally, NetBEUI was developed in 1985 by IBM, who assumed that Local area networks would be divided into workgroups of 20 to 300 computers, connected via gateways to other LAN segments of the mainframe computer (Siyan, 2000). The internet protocol was thus optimized to support departmental LAN computers with no provisions for making the protocol routable. The internet protocol worked super fast for computers using Windows 2000 operating systems. Consequently, the protocol provides smooth flow control with tuning parameters and error detection. When Microsoft too put the NetBEUI internet protocol, they supported it in all its networking products. Importantly noted, NetBEUI is the precursor of the NetBIOS Frame and provides compatibility with existing LAN manager and IBM server installations and MS-Net. NetBIOS can be used on top of TCP/IP to turn it in NetBT (Siyan, 2000). On the other hand, NetBEUI is a complete protocol with 2 to 3 layers of the OSI model. When used with Microsoft Windows 2000 operating system, NetBIOS interface is supported under MS-DOS. The NetBEUI protocol standards are specified in the IBM Local Area Network Technical References manual. As Siyan notes, it runs under the 802.2 data-link protocol layer standards and uses the LLC framing. Precisely, the standard is not routable, which is reflected in the NetBEUI. Similarly, NetBEUI comes in two packet forms. The first packet is a connectionless service and uses the Unnumbered Information frame of IEEE 802.2 data-link control protocol. The second is a connection-based service and uses the Information frame of the IEEE 802.2 Logical Link Control.

Is NetBEUI still used? If yes, how?

Ideally, NetBEUI was designed as a small and efficient protocol to use in department-sized local areas networks of at least 20 to 200 computers. The computers did not need to be routed to other subnets in the wide area network. This means, NetBEUI was to be used exclusively for small non-routed networks. This also means that NetBEUI is no longer popular because it was compatible with computers using Windows 95/98 operating systems. With the growth and popularity of the internet, the use of NetBEUI has been phased out by more powerful internet protocols that have the functionality to support wide area networks. Nonetheless, even with the invention of Windows XP and other versions, some old systems still run under early versions of windows, which mean users who still have computers running under the Windows 95/98 and Windows 2000 operating system use NetBEUI. Consequently, although Microsoft no longer supports NetBEUI on Windows Server 2003, the internet protocol can still be used by installing it from a Windows XP installation from the Valueadd/MSFT/NET/NETBEUI folder (Price, 2004). It is highly recommended that applications using NetBEUI should be rewritten or if it must be used, then another operating system within the range should be considered to offer additional support. Importantly noted, supporting multiple protocols brings along an extra overhead on the network and while companies have maintained multiple protocols over the year, using a single protocol is more efficient.

The network layer of the OSI model transfers data from source destination network to another network on the same network. NetBEUI is a simplistic network protocol that does not map to several layers of the OSI model. Precisely, the NetBEUI operates at the transport and network layers of the OSI model, which means that other protocols may be needed to boost the communication process. When IBM originally designed and developed the NetBEUI protocol, they intended for use with small networks that did not need routing. As highlighted, the protocol has ease of configuration and maintenance, an element that makes it suitable for network environment without IT administrative support. Nonetheless, the internet protocol also has several limitations, which has made it unpopular over the years, especially with the growth of the internet. Mostly, due to its lack of routing, the protocol becomes unsuitable and has been replaced by other protocols that support routing.


Antonakos, J. L., & Mansfield, K. C. (2009). Computer networking for LANs to WANs: Hardware, software and security. Clifton Park, N.Y: Cengage Delmar Learning. Retrieved from:

Clarke, G. E., & Tetz, E. (2009). CompTIA A+ certification all-in-one for dummies. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley. Retrieved from:

Cowart, R., & Knittel, B. (2008). Special edition using Microsoft Windows Vista. Indianapolis, Ind: Que. Retrieved from:

Microsoft. (n.d). Winsock network protocol support in windows. Retrieved from:

Price, B. (2004). MCSE: Windows Server 2003 Active Directory and network infrastructure design study guide (exam 70-297). San Francisco: Sybex. Retrieved from:

Siyan, K. S. (2000). Windows 2000 TCP/IP. Indianapolis, Ind: New Riders. Retrieved from:

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