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The Windows Internet Naming Service (WINS) converts NetBIOS host names into IP addresses. It allows Windows machines on a given LAN segment to recognize Windows machines on other LAN segments.
WINS is similar to DNS in that they both provide name resolution on TCP/IP networks, but WINS resolves NetBIOS names while DNS resolves domain names. A network will require a WINS server when there are older applications that use NetBIOS. Windows XP and Windows 2000 started using DNS names instead of (or in addition) to NetBIOS names and so DNS emerged at this point as Microsoft's solution to network name resolution.
If a WINS server does not exist, resolution of NetBIOS host names can be done by the LMHOSTS file, which is a static file on each workstation.