For more information on dead gateway detection and registry parameter TcpMaxDataRetransmissions, please see the following Microsoft Knowledge Base articles:
TITLE : Dead Gateway Detection in TCP/IP for Windows NT
TITLE : How to Optimize Windows NT to Run Over Slow WAN Links w/TCP/IP
If the switched gateway is unreachable or inactive on the network, it loses connectivity to all remote sites. At this point, a ping to this computer from a remote network will fail to get a positive response. Similarly, any outgoing ping to a remote host from this computer will give a Request timed out error. This behavior is by design and conforms to TCP/IP specifications.
The following illustrations describe situations where multiple gateways are used.
Consider a computer with two network cards, Netcard1 and Netcard2, and the following IP addresses and default gateways:
IP Address: 126.96.36.199
Default Gateway: 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206
IP Address: 220.127.116.11
Default Gateway: 18.104.22.168
If you want to Telnet to a workstation with an IP address of 22.214.171.124, the IP datagrams will be routed through the 126.96.36.199 gateway. If 188.8.131.52 is detected as unavailable, IP switches to the second gateway 184.108.40.206. When this gateway fails, then use 220.127.116.11, and so on. This applies only to TCP traffic and switching gateways occurs based on the mechanism described earlier. Telnet, FTP, and NetBIOS Session service network traffic use TCP for network communications.
Also consider where the two networks connected to Netcard1 and Netcard2 are disjointed (that is, not connected to each other through any other router). If there is a network (say 22.101.x.x) that is accessible only through Netcard2, the IP datagrams for this network will still be routed through 18.104.22.168 because it is the primary default gateway. To route IP datagrams destined to network 22.101.x.x through 22.214.171.124, a static route needs to be added to the routing table through the ROUTE utility. To add the route, type the following command:
route add 126.96.36.199 MASK 255.255.0.0 188.8.131.52
Another possible solution for the above scenario is to run multiprotocol routing on the multihomed Windows NT computer so it can exchange routing information with other routers on the network running Routing Information Protocol. Multiprotocol routing is available in Windows NT 3.51 Service Pack 2 or later.
For further information, please reference the following Microsoft Knowledge Base article:
TITLE : TCP/IP Dead Gateway Detection Algorithm Updated for Windows NT