In Windows NT Server 4.0 or later, the DNS service provides for the use of WINS lookup. This feature enables configured DNS zones to refer queries not answered from current zone information to a WINS server for further resolution. With this added search of the WINS namespace, both DNS and WINS are used to complete a full search of registered names for a matched response.
WINS lookup is supported for both forward and reverse lookup zones and can be enabled on a per-zone basis or configured for selected zones. This feature should also be configured to prevent replication or zone transfer of WINS resource records to servers with other DNS implementations that do not recognize the WINS resource records.
Down-level clients (Windows NT 3.5 and 3.51, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 95, and Windows 98), however, rely on NetBIOS, which can use an NBNS (WINS), broadcast, or flat LMHOSTS file. In particular, the NetBIOS name service is used for domain controller location.
WINS filled the role of domain and machine locator service for previous versions of Windows NT. Windows 2000 does not require WINS in a NetBIOS-less environment. However, WINS is always required in a mixed environment where Windows 2000-based machines interoperate with other systems such as Windows NT 4.0, Windows 9x, and Windows for Workgroups.
WINS Referral is the recommended way for Windows 2000 DNS clients to address down-level machines registered in WINS. Because Windows 2000 resolvers are optimized to use DNS, they would be much more efficient looking up down-level clients in a DNS database as opposed to a WINS database. To enable this kind of lookup, you can create a WINS referral zone in DNS that points to the WINS database. This zone does not perform any registrations or updates, as it simply refers DNS lookups to WINS.
Whenever Windows 2000-based clients send a query with an unqualified name, the default domain name suffix is tried first. Additional suffixes, however, can be supplied as part of the DHCP configuration. If the name of the WINS Referral zone is one of them, all WINS client names can be resolved.