The protocols considered here are mainly proprietary and documentation is often poor and hard to find. A high level view is presented here that attempts to describe how the protocols relate to each other.

The original NetBIOS protocol was developed to become the NetBIOS Frames Protocol (NFB) often referred to as NetBEUI or just NetBIOS. This protocol is still used today, but is not popular because it is not routable or scalable. NBF or NetBEUI provides a datagram delivery and session service that can be used for a variety of network applications.

The above protocol is often encapsulated in other (routable) protocols such as IPX/SPX (which Microsoft refers to as NBIPX) or TCP/IP (which Microsoft refers to as NBT). The use of NetBIOS over TCP/IP is still one of the most popular network protocol configurations.

Although NBF (either in encapsulated form or "on the wire") can be used for a variety of applications it is often used as a foundation for the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. One of the most widely used network configurations is SMB running over NetBIOS over TCP/IP.

SMB has been developed to become the Common Internet File System (CIFS). Recently CIFS has been implemented directly on TCP/IP without requiring the NetBIOS over TCP/IP layer.

The relationship between the various protocols with respect to the OSI model is illustrated in: the appendix called Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) Reference Model