Windows Clients Not Able to Browse Remote Workgroups

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Windows NT, Windows 95/98, and Windows for Workgroups (WFWG) workgroup clients are not able to browse remote workgroups across routers using the TCP/IP protocol. Workgroup clients can, however, browse remote domains under certain configurations described in this article. However, domain clients can browse remote workgroups in subnets with domain clients present.


In this article, a domain client is a Windows for Workgroups, Windows 95/98 or Windows NT workstation; or a Windows NT stand-alone server computer that is a member of a domain. For a WFWG and Windows 95/98 WINS client, if the workgroup name is the same as one of the domain names in the network, the workgroup name automatically becomes a member of that domain. A workgroup client is a member of a workgroup.

In a big network with multiple domains and workgroups spread across several subnets separated by routers, browsing can become complex and hence it becomes necessary to understand the techniques of browsing to troubleshoot browser-related problems. When all workstations and servers are WINS enabled, if there are no workgroups in the entire network, all clients will be able to browse every other domain and members of those domains in the network.

When there are workgroups in the network, workgroup clients will not be able to see remote workgroups and members in those workgroups. This is because workgroups are not WAN aware and workgroups separated by routers are considered to be discrete workgroups even if they have the same name. This is by design and is an expected behavior. Workgroup clients can however browse remote domains provided there is at least one member of the remote domain on the local subnet. This domain member announces the presence of that domain on its subnet and thus workgroup clients know about the existence of that domain and will get the browse list from that domain member that is also a master browser for that domain on that subnet.

Domain members, however, can browse a remote workgroup, provided there is at least one domain member on the remote subnet where the workgroup is located. This domain member includes in its browse list the workgroup name it sees on its network and sends that list to the domain master browser, which is the primary domain controller (PDC) of that domain. The domain master browser in turn sends that list to every other master browser in remote subnets. Thus, all other subnets having members of that domain will know this workgroup exists. Because workgroups do not have a concept of domain master browser, this technique will not work for workgroup members and so they cannot browse remote workgroups.

120151Browsing a Wide Area Network with WINS


Article ID: 149941 - Last Review: February 28, 2014 - Revision: 2.3
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.5
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.5
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Windows for Workgroups 3.2
  • Microsoft TCP/IP-32 for Windows for Workgroups 1.0
  • Microsoft Windows 95
  • Microsoft Windows 98 Standard Edition
kbnosurvey kbarchive kbnetwork KB149941

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