Introduction to the Browser Service

Users often need to know what domains and computers are accessible from their local computer. Viewing all the network resources available on a network of computers running Microsoft® Windows® 2000 or Microsoft® Windows NT® is called browsing . The Windows browser service maintains a list—called the browse list —of all available domains and servers. The browse list can be viewed using Explorer and is provided by a browser in the domain of the local computer.


For the purposes of this discussion, the term server refers to any computer that can provide resources to the rest of the network. If a computer running Microsoft® Windows® 95, Microsoft® Windows® 98, Microsoft® Windows® for Workgroup version 3.11, Microsoft® Windows NT® Workstation, or Windows 2000 Professional can share file or print resources with other computers on the network, it is considered a server in the context of the browser system. The computer does not need to be actively sharing resources to be considered a server.

This appendix includes descriptions of the following topics:

  • Roles of browser computers in the browser system.

  • Coordination by browser computers to provide an accurate browse list, even if the master browser fails.

  • Election of the master browser.

  • Application programming interface (API) calls used to register computers for the browser list and to receive the list from the master browser.

  • Browsing across domains.

  • Troubleshooting browser problems.