Browser Servers maintain lists of Servers and the services they offer. Other systems, known as Browser Clients (which may also be Browser servers) query the Browser Servers for information. When Servers come on line they register themselves with the Browser Servers. The Servers are organized in to logical groups according to which group they belong to; these can be "Workgroups" or Domains" and correspond to SMB / NetBIOS group names.

Browser Servers, sometimes simply known as Browsers, can occupy a number of rolls, serving the needs of a particular group or sub-net:

If a client system does not get a response from a Local Master Browser it can initiate an election. The Browser systems and Potential Browser systems communicate to decide which machine will become the Browser.

Client system will contact Browser servers for a list of servers within a group or for lists of groups. Typically clients will keep a list of several Browsers.