Network Driver Interface Specification


Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS) is a standardized programming interface used for network interface cards (NICs). Developed by Microsoft and 3Com, it enables communication between the operating system and the NIC, essentially functioning as a mediator. By using NDIS, network protocol stacks and device drivers can operate across multiple platforms and hardware without requiring modifications.

Key Takeaways

  1. Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS) is a standard interface between the network interface card (NIC) hardware and the network protocol stack in a Microsoft Windows operating system. It serves as a programming interface for low-level device drivers to communicate with high-level network protocols.
  2. NDIS enables consistent network management by offering a common set of functionalities for hardware manufacturers and software developers, therefore allowing multiple NICs to operate efficiently across various network protocols and operating systems. This flexibility helps to improve compatibility, easier installation, and maintenance of networking devices.
  3. NDIS supports many network protocols, such as TCP/IP, AppleTalk, IPX/SPX, and more. In addition to its fundamental role in Windows operating systems, NDIS has been adopted by other platforms like macOS and the Windows CE family to provide compatibility with Windows-based network devices and software.


The Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS) is an important technology term because it serves as a critical middleware layer that enables seamless interaction between various hardware network devices and software protocols.

By providing a standardized Application Programming Interface (API) for drivers and protocol stacks, NDIS allows developers to write network card drivers and other networking components in a more efficient and platform-independent manner.

Consequently, this ensures compatibility, interoperability, and ease of integration across diverse networking environments.

Ultimately, NDIS promotes a more harmonious ecosystem within the technology industry by simplifying the process of developing and maintaining network drivers and fostering collaboration between hardware and software developers.


The Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS) plays a crucial role in establishing seamless communication between hardware devices and software applications in computer networks. This essential component serves as a medium for the operating system kernel and the network card, ensuring that both can collaborate effectively to transmit and process data across various systems. NDIS achieves this by providing an Application Programming Interface (API), which sets forth an organized set of protocols furnishing a uniform way of interaction.

As a result, software developers can focus on crafting vital applications without worrying about the intricacies of specific hardware details or altering their code substantially for different network cards. Aside from bridging the gap between hardware and software, the purpose of NDIS extends to enhancing the efficiency and performance of the network. It achieves this by allowing multiple network protocols to work concurrently and share the same network interface cards.

This compatibility with various protocols makes managing devices in the network environment significantly easier. Moreover, its support for plug and play functionality brings about effortless installation and configuration of network devices for less technical users. By providing a powerful, consistent, and extensible interface, NDIS allows individuals and businesses to harness the various networking capabilities while maintaining smooth interoperability and optimal performance.

Examples of Network Driver Interface Specification

The Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS) is a standard protocol used in Windows operating systems to establish communication between the software and the hardware components in a network. It serves as the interface between the network card and the operating system, enabling smooth communication and data transmission. Here are three real-world examples involving NDIS:

Home Network:In a typical home network, you might have devices like personal computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets connected to a Wi-Fi router. When any device tries to access the internet or communicate with another device within the network, NDIS establishes a communication channel between the network card and the operating system, thus facilitating smooth data exchange.

Corporate Network:In a corporate setting, a company’s headquarters or a branch may have hundreds or even thousands of devices connected to their network. NDIS enables each device to communicate with network resources, such as file servers, printers, and internet access. Using NDIS allows businesses to maintain their computer network effectively and efficiently by providing a standardized interface between network devices and drivers.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):ISPs, like Comcast and AT&T, provide internet services to consumers and businesses. One way they do this is by providing modems and routers that connect users to their infrastructure. NDIS plays a crucial role in ensuring that these devices can communicate effectively with the network, thereby providing customers with seamless internet connectivity and data transmission. ISPs also can potentially use NDIS to troubleshoot issues and monitor quality of service in their networks, leading to improved reliability and performance for users.

FAQ – Network Driver Interface Specification

What is Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS)?

Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS) is a standardized software programming interface used for communication between Windows-based devices and network adapter drivers. It provides a flexible and efficient way for different network adapters to work together under the Windows operating system.

What operating systems use NDIS?

NDIS is primarily found on Microsoft Windows operating systems, starting with Windows 3.1 and continuing across all successive versions, including Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10. Some other operating systems, like ReactOS and Wine, also implement NDIS compatibility to support Windows network drivers.

How does NDIS work?

NDIS acts as a translator between network protocols and the network interface card (NIC) driver. When applications or operating system components need to transfer data across the network, they utilize a protocol like TCP/IP. NDIS takes these protocol requests and adapts them into a format that the NIC driver can understand, ensuring smooth communication between the network card and the operating system.

What is the purpose of NDIS?

The primary purpose of NDIS is to provide a standardized programming interface for network adapter drivers, ensuring compatibility across various network hardware and Windows-based operating systems. It simplifies the development process for driver manufacturers, and allows users to easily use network devices without worrying about driver incompatibility issues.

What is an NDIS filter driver?

An NDIS filter driver is a kernel-mode component that adds additional functionality or modifies the behavior of existing NDIS drivers. They can be used to implement network-related features such as packet inspection, traffic shaping, or firewall functionalities. Filter drivers are essentially intermediary drivers that manipulate network traffic as it passes between the base NDIS driver and the network protocols implemented by the operating system.

Related Technology Terms

  • NDIS (Network Driver Interface Specification)
  • Protocol Driver
  • Miniport Driver
  • Intermediate Driver
  • Network Device Interface

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents