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Before a peer-to-peer or domain-based network can be created, consideration must be given to how machines on the network will communicate. If all the machines on the network are trying to talk with different languages very little will happen.
Since the word protocol is used frequently to describe a series of events that need to make something successfully happen, it has been adopted by the network world to describe the structure of the conversation used to transfer specific data back and forth amongst networked machines. In particular, the term transport protocol is bantered about, which refers to the basic member of the protocol family (a group of network protocols) that is being used to transport the data.
Protocols are installed (included) by default when you install most operating systems if a network card was present at the time. On all current versions of Windows, if you install a network card after the initial operating system setup, a selection of protocols are automagically installed too.
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