What Is the Microsoft .NET Framework, and Why Is It Installed on My PC? (2023)

If you’ve been using Windows for very long at all, you’ve probably heard of Microsoft’s .NET, probably because anapplication asked you to install it, or you noticed it in your list of installed programs. Unless you’re a developer, you don’t need a lot of knowledge to make use of it. You just need it to work. But, since we geeks like knowing things, join us as we explore just what .NET is and why so many applications need it.

The .NET Framework, Explained

The name “.NET Framework” itself is a bit of a misnomer. A framework (in programming terms) is really a collection of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and a shared library of code that developers can call when developing applications, so that they don’t have to write the code from scratch. In the .NET Framework, that library of shared code is named the Framework Class Library (FCL). The bits of code in the shared library can perform all kinds of different functions. Say, for example, a developer needed their application to be able to ping another IP address on the network. Instead of writing that code themselves, and then writing all the little bits and pieces that have to interpret what the ping results mean, they can use code from the library that performs that function.

And that’s just one tiny example. The .NET Framework contains tens of thousands of pieces of shared code. This shared code makes the lives of developers much easier because they don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time their applications need to perform some common function. Instead, they can focus on the code that’s unique to their applications and the user interface that ties it all together. Using a framework of shared code like this also helps provide some standards between applications. Other developers can make sense of what a program is doing more easily and users of the applications can count on things like Open and Save As dialog boxes working the same in different applications.

So, why is the name a misnomer?

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Because in addition to serving as a framework of shared code, .NET also provides a runtime environment for applications. A runtime environment provides a virtual machine-like sandbox in which applications run. Many development platforms provide the same kind of thing. Java and Ruby on Rails, for example, both provide their own runtime environments. In the .NET world, the runtime environment is named the Common Language Runtime (CLR). When a user runs an application, the code for that application is actually compiled into machine code at runtime and then executed. CLR also provides some other services, such as managing memory and processor threads, handling program exceptions, and managing security. The runtime environment is really a way of abstracting the applicationfrom the actual hardware on which the application runs.

There are several advantages to having applications run inside a runtime environment. The biggest is portability. Developers can write their code using any of a number of supporting languages, including such favorites as C#, C++, F#, Visual Basic, and a few dozen others. That code can then be run on any hardware on which .NET is supported. While the platform was ostensibly designed to support hardware other than Windows-based PCs, however, its proprietary nature led to it mostly being used for Windows applications.

Microsoft has created other implementations of .NET to help resolve this. Mono is a free and open-source project designed to provide compatibility between.NET applications and other platforms, especially Linux. The .NET Core implementation is also free and open-source framework designed to bring lightweight, modular apps to multiple platforms. .NET Core is intended to bring support to Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows (including support for Universal Windows Platform apps).

As you can imagine, a framework like .NET can be a real boon on the development side of things. It allows developers to write code using their preferred language and be assured that code can run wherever the framework is supported. Users benefit from consistent applications and also the fact that many apps might not be developed at all if the developers didn’t have access to the framework.

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How Does .NET Get on My System?

The .NET Framework has a somewhat tortuous history, and has seen a number of versions over the years. Typically, the newest version of .NET available would be included in the release of each version of Windows. The versions were intended to be backwards-compatible (so an application written for version 2 could run if version 3 was installed), but that didn’t work out so well. Not all applications worked with the newer versions. On systems running Windows XP and Vista, especially, you’d often see multipledifferent versions of .NET installed on a PC.

There were essentially three ways that any particular version of the .NET Framework would get installed:

  • Your version ofWindows might have it included in the default installation.
  • An application that required a particular version might install it during its own installation.
  • Some applications would even send you to a separate download site to grab and install a particular version of the .NET Framework.

Fortunately, things are smoother in modern versions of Windows. Sometime during the Windows Vista days, two important things happened. First, .NET Framework 3.5 was released. That version was reworked to include components from versions 2 and 3. Apps that required earlier versions would now work if you just had version 3.5 installed. Secondly,upgrades to the .NET Framework finally started being delivered through Windows Update.

Together, these two things meant that developers could now pretty much rely on users having the proper components already installed and no longer had to ask users to perform additional installations.

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When Windows 8 rolled around, a new, completely redesigned .NET Framework version 4 came with it. Version 4 (and up) does not feature backwards compatibility with older versions. It’s designed so that it can be run alongside version 3.5 on the same PC. Apps written to versions 3.5 and lower will require version 3.5 to be installed, and apps written to version 4 or higher will need version 4 installed. The good news is that you as a user don’t really have to worry about those installations anymore. Windows pretty much handles it all for you.

Windows 8 and Windows 10 include versions 3.5 and 4 (thecurrent version right now being 4.6.1). They are installed on a first-time-needed basis, so the first time you install an app that needs one of those versions, Windows will add it automatically. You can actually add them to Windows yourself ahead of time if you want by accessing Windows’ optional features. You have options for adding version 3.5 and version 4.6 separately.

That said, there’s no real reason to add them to your Windows installation yourself unless you’re developing applications. The first time you install an app that needs one of the available versions, Windows will add it for you behind the scenes.

What Can I Do if I’m Having Problems with .NET?

You likely won’t run into problems with .NET itself on modern versions of Windows. Since both required versions are included with Windows and installed as needed, app installations are pretty seamless. On older versions of Windows (think XP and Vista), you often had to uninstall and reinstall the various versions of .NET to get things working. You also had to jump through hoops to make sure the right versions of .NET were installed for the apps that needed them. Now, Windows handles that stuff for you.

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That said, if you are having troubles that you think are related to the .NET framework, there are a few steps you can take.

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First, you should make sure that Windows has all its latest updates. If an update to the .NET Framework is available, that might just solve your problems. You can also try removing the .NET Framework versions from your computer and then adding them again. Just hit up our post on adding additional Windows features to see how. If neither of those steps works, you can try scanning for corrupt system files in Windows. It doesn’t take long and it can restore system files that have become corrupt or gone missing. It’s always worth a shot.

If none of that works, try downloading and running Microsoft’s .NET Framework Repair Tool. The tool supports all current versions of the .NET Framework. It helps you troubleshoot common issues with setup or updates to .NET and may be able to automatically repair any troubles you’re having.

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And there you have it. It may be more than you ever wanted to know about the .NET Framework, but hey–the next time it comes up at a party, you can impress all your friends.


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Do I need .NET Framework on my PC? ›

You need . NET Framework installed to run applications on Windows that were created using . NET Framework. It's already included in many versions of Windows.

Is it OK to uninstall Microsoft .NET Framework? ›

Uninstalling the Microsoft . NET Framework may cause some applications to cease to function. In general, you should not uninstall any versions of the . NET Framework that are installed on your computer, because an application you use may depend on a specific version of the .

What is .NET Framework and why do I need it? ›

The . NET Framework is an open-source developer platform you can use to create a broad range of applications. This free cross-platform framework accepts multiple coding languages and features large code libraries that make it easy to build applications for mobile devices, desktops, the web and the Internet of Things.

Do I need all Microsoft NET Framework? ›

If you have mostly older software that was written by professional companies then you may not need *. NET Framework, but if you have newer software (whether written by professionals or novices) or shareware (written in the last few years) then you might need it.

Is .NET Framework important? ›

Choosing a framework that will help you build your websites now has become an important job. Microsoft . NET Framework is a technology that can develop websites and web applications, helping the business achieve its purpose. It helps in developing dynamic and rich-quality applications that are efficient and productive.

Does Windows 10 automatically install .NET Framework? ›

If the framework package is already installed on the user's device, no further action is necessary. Otherwise, the Microsoft Store triggers the installation of the framework package before proceeding with the installation for the app that uses it.

Is .NET Framework needed for Windows 10? ›

NET Framework is required to run many applications on Windows. The instructions in this article should help you install the . NET Framework versions that you need.

What are the disadvantages of using the .NET Framework? ›

The Cons of . NET Development
  • Cost of Licensing. Although . NET is an open-source technology, it can still be expensive to use. ...
  • Memory Leaks. This is a common problem in just about any technology as sometimes the framework doesn't release the memory that it no longer needs. . ...
  • Object-Relational Support. As .

Is it necessary to update NET Framework? ›

If you're using the . Net Framework on a server, then you will need to upgrade to a supported version of the framework once support ends. Additionally, any applications that are running on that server will also need to be upgraded to a supported version of the . Net Framework.

Is .NET Framework safe? ›

In addition, it is secure and ensures easy deployment with a controlled code sharing environment and side-by-side versioning (run multiple versions of your application on the same machine).

Why is .NET so important? ›

NET is important because it is a widely used and popular software development platform. It is being used by businesses of all sizes and industries to build sophisticated applications. Today, . NET is a powerful tool that can be used to build web applications, Windows-based applications, and console applications.

What does Windows .NET Framework do? ›

. NET Framework is a managed execution environment for Windows that allows software developers to create a software application in one programming language and be assured that the app will be able to work with code written in other languages.

Can I delete .NET Framework and reinstall? ›

NET Framework cannot be uninstalled on Windows 8 and 10. Because of this the preferred method is to repair . NET Framework and to run the System File Checker.

Can I uninstall .NET Framework Windows 10? ›

Option 1: Windows 8/10

You cannot fully uninstall the . NET framework from Windows 8 and above, but there is a procedure to force an update. Browse out to Programs and Features in Control Panel. On the left side, click on Turn Windows features on or off.

Why do I have to install .NET Framework? ›

NET Framework. It helps you troubleshoot common issues with setup or updates to . NET and may be able to automatically repair any troubles you're having.

Does anyone still use .NET Framework? ›

It is still widely used by developers and remains a top open-source framework on GitHub. In fact, according to the Stack Overflow 2021 developer survey, more than 15% of developers still prefer ASP.NET over other frameworks for their web development needs.

What is the main disadvantage of using a framework? ›

A significant disadvantage for teams is that leaning heavily on a framework can obscure some of the learning necessary to gain a better understanding of the system or language itself.

What applications use .NET Framework? ›

Not only can you use the Microsoft . NET Framework in Visual Studio, but Visual Studio is built with . NET. The program achieves many innovations using programs like Windows API, Windows Forms, Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Store, and Microsoft Silverlight.

How do I turn off Microsoft NET Framework? ›

To disable the computer's Microsoft .NET Framework:
  1. Access the Control Panel, click on Programs and then on the option Turn Windows features on or off;
  2. Select Microsoft .NET Framework 4.8;
  3. Uncheck the selected box and click OK;
  4. Wait while the feature is disabled;
  5. Click Close. Microsoft . NET Framework has been disabled.
Nov 29, 2021

How to uninstall Microsoft NET Framework? ›

Uninstall the tool
  1. Open Add or Remove Programs.
  2. Search for Microsoft . NET SDK Uninstall Tool .
  3. Select Uninstall.
Oct 4, 2022

Is .NET Framework installed by default? ›

NET Framework is installed by default. The plus sign icon ➕ denotes OS versions on which .

Does Windows come with .NET Framework? ›

Windows 10 (all editions) includes the . NET Framework 4.6 as an OS component, and it is installed by default. It also includes the . NET Framework 3.5 SP1 as an OS component that is not installed by default.

Do I need to install all .NET Framework versions? ›

You need to install the . NET Framework to run many apps on Windows. The best versions to install are the latest one and the . NET Framework 3.5 SP1.

Does Windows 11 come with .NET Framework? ›

NET Framework 4.8 is included with Windows 11, and runs any . NET Framework 4.

Is .NET Framework good? ›

NET is a modern, innovative, open source development platform and developers love it. . NET ranked as the #1 most-loved framework on the Stack Overflow Developer Survey for three years in a row (2019, 2020, and 2021).

Is Microsoft discontinuing .NET Framework? ›

. NET Framework 4.5. 2, 4.6, and 4.6. 1 retired on April 26, 2022.

When should you not use a framework? ›

If What You're Working on Is Simple

If you're working on something simple and small, then a framework is going to be overkill. In fact, if you're working on a smaller project, a framework will only complicate matters, so you're better off doing without.

Is it safe to update .NET Framework? ›

Upgrading to the . NET Framework is faster, safer, and generally easier to do than ever before. The . NET Framework supports all versions of Visual Studio, which is especially helpful if you're working in a group environment.

Is .NET Framework part of Windows updates? ›

Microsoft Update Catalog

NET Framework are part of the Windows 10 Monthly Cumulative Update.

What is .NET Framework in Windows update? ›

.NET Framework is a Windows-only version of .NET for building any type of app that runs on Windows.

Is it OK to install .NET Framework? ›

Most times, applications will ask for a particular version of the framework to be installed. We'd recommend avoiding installing that particular version, and trying instead to install the most up-to-date version of . NET, assuming your Windows OS supports it.

What is .NET in simple words? ›

. NET is an open-source platform for building desktop, web, and mobile applications that can run natively on any operating system. The . NET system includes tools, libraries, and languages that support modern, scalable, and high-performance software development.

What does NET stand for? ›

. net is a top-level domain, also known as a TLD. Derived from the word network, it was originally developed for companies involved in networking technology.

What is .NET in computer? ›

The Internet, sometimes called simply "the Net," is a worldwide system of computer networks -- a network of networks in which users at any one computer can, if they have permission, get information from any other computer (and sometimes talk directly to users at other computers).

Does .NET Framework improve performance? ›

NET Framework offers support for ETW events, and ETW is used by many profiling and performance tools to generate performance data. These tools often enable and disable ETW events, so familiarity with them is helpful.

Should I remove old versions of .NET Framework? ›

Net Framework is a part of Windows OS and should not be removed as it may cause some issues on the dependent applications.

How many GB is NET Framework? ›

Hardware requirements
Processor1 GHz
Minimum disk space (32-bit)4.5 GB
Minimum disk space (64-bit)4.5 GB
Nov 18, 2022

How do I know what .NET Framework is installed? ›

To check what version of .Net installed on the machine, follow steps below:
  1. Run command "regedit" from console to open Registry Editor.
  2. Look for HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Microsoft\NET Framework Setup\NDP.
  3. All installed .NET Framework versions are listed under NDP drop-down list.

Where do I uninstall .NET Framework? ›

  1. Click Windows® Start, select Settings, select Control Panel.
  2. Click Programs and Features.
  3. Uninstall Microsoft .NET Framework 4 Extended.
  4. Uninstall Microsoft .NET Framework 4 Client Profile.
  5. Reboot computer.
Nov 22, 2021

Is NET required for installing Windows 10? ›

You can install Windows 10 without an internet connection. Furthermore, you will be able to use it as normal but without having access to features like automatic updates, the ability to browse the internet, or sending and receiving emails.

Is a framework necessary? ›

Software and web development frameworks like jQuery and Angular can be used to save time when programming, but are they really necessary? The short answer is no, but it's a bit more complex than that. Just because you don't need to use something doesn't mean it's a bad idea.

How do I uninstall .NET Framework? ›

Uninstall the tool
  1. Open Add or Remove Programs.
  2. Search for Microsoft . NET SDK Uninstall Tool .
  3. Select Uninstall.
Oct 4, 2022

How to fix .NET Framework installation error in Windows 10? ›

Close all open programs. Open the Windows Start menu. Type "Control Panel" into the search and open Control Panel. Go to Programs and Features.
Check NET Framework 3.5 SP1
  1. Select the checkbox to turn on . NET Framework 3.5 SP1.
  2. Select OK to save your changes.
  3. Restart your computer.

Does Windows 11 need NET Framework? ›

NET Framework 4.8 is included with Windows 11, and runs any . NET Framework 4.

How do I disable Microsoft .NET Framework? ›

To disable the computer's Microsoft .NET Framework:
  1. Access the Control Panel, click on Programs and then on the option Turn Windows features on or off;
  2. Select Microsoft .NET Framework 4.8;
  3. Uncheck the selected box and click OK;
  4. Wait while the feature is disabled;
  5. Click Close. Microsoft . NET Framework has been disabled.
Nov 29, 2021

Is it OK to not use framework? ›

So I suggest, unless it is absolutely necessary, do not use a framework as your development platform. The browser itself is your platform; use the platform.” At the very least, the stackless approach is a good way to re-familiarise yourself with the modern web platform.


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