If you’ve just upgraded Windows, you may notice that some programs require the use of earlier versions of the Microsoft .NET framework, which is not included in the latest version of Windows. In some cases, Windows might detect that automatically and prompt you to install the .NET framework version that is required through a dialog, but this is not a given. Read on to learn how to manually install the version of NET Framework that you need.
What Is .NET Framework?
Microsoft .NET Framework is an open-source software development framework created by Microsoft. The first version was released in 2002. It includes both the Command Language Runtime and Framework Class Library.
It’s designed to make it easier to design web and software applications across multiple languages. Developers are able to create applications for Windows, Microsoft Azure, Windows Server, and XML Web service on a single platform.
Install via Windows Update
You need a working Internet connection to use this method.
1. Press the Win key on your keyboard and type “Windows Features” in the search box.
2. Click “Turn Windows features on or off” to open the configuration dialog.
3. Select the “.NET Framework 3.5 (includes .NET 2.0 and 3.0)” checkbox and click “OK.” You can leave the other options as is.
Windows will then connect to Windows update to install the .NET Framework 3.5 on your computer.
To complete the installation, you may need to restart your computer.
Manual Install through Windows Installation Media
Provided you have Windows installation media handy, you can use it to install older versions of the .NET framework. It’s much quicker and doesn’t require having an active Internet connection.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Insert your Windows DVD or bootable Windows USB into your PC.
2. Next, open File Explorer, and under “This PC,” note the letter of the installation media you inserted (D: in my case).
3. Press the Windows key and type
cmd in the search box.
4. Right-click the Command Prompt and click “Run as administrator.”
5. Next, run the following command. Remember to replace D: with the letter of the installation media on your computer.
After a few seconds, the installation will complete. You can restart your PC just to be sure.
Install .NET Framework Directly from Download
Microsoft allows you to download most versions directly for manual installation. Versions 3.5 SP1 through 4.8 are all available for download, though not all of those versions are still actively supported. Click the version you need and download the runtime option.
You can also download version 2.0 and 3.0 directly and search for different versions and the latest service packs within the Microsoft Update Catalog.
Available .NET Framework Versions
While this post focuses on .NET Framework versions 2.0, 3.0, and 3.5, those aren’t the only older versions available. As of August 2021, the latest version is actually .NET Framework 4.8.
The current list of older versions include:
- .NET Framework 2.0
- .NET Framework 3.0
- .NET Framework 3.5 (installing 3.5 also installs 2.0 and 3.0)
- .NET Framework 4.0
- .NET Framework 4.5
- .NET Framework 4.5.1
- .NET Framework 4.5.2
- .NET Framework 4.6
- .NET Framework 4.6.2
- .NET Framework 4.7
- .NET Framework 4.7.1
- .NET Framework 4.7.2
Troubleshooting Installation Issues
While you usually won’t have any issues when you install .NET Framework, problems do pop up sometimes. Some of the most common include:
- Compatibility errors – If you get a message that isn’t compatible with your OS, then the version you’re trying to install isn’t compatible and won’t work. If you know it is supported, install the latest Windows Updates. This error typically happens when trying to install a newer version on an older PC.
- Invalid Windows install – If you’re not running a licensed copy of Windows, the .NET Framework may not install at all. Registering your copy or installing a valid copy is the only solution.
- Windows Update issues – If you get errors about a specific KB number or that additional updates are necessary, install all the latest Windows Updates before proceeding.
- Corrupted download – If you get any errors about a corrupted installation, check Add or Remove Programs to see if anything did install. Uninstall if possible. Then, manually download the version you need and install it that way.
Microsoft offers even more troubleshooting options for more advanced errors.
Check .NET Framework Version
If you’re not sure if you already have the right version installed, it’s easy to learn how to check your .NET Framework version.
Using File Explorer
A quick and easy way to check your .NET Framework version is to use File Explorer. Open File Explorer and enter the following location. (Replace the drive letter if Windows isn’t installed on C.):
Each folder at the top is an individual .NET Framework version.
Press Win+ X and select Windows PowerShell (Admin). Enter the following at the prompt:
This shows you all the versions that are currently installed.
Using Command Prompt
While the result isn’t as neat and pretty, you can use Command Prompt instead of PowerShell. Open Start and type
cmd. Select “Run as administrator” under Command Prompt when it appears.
Enter the following command:
Scroll through the list, looking at the Version line.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I install multiple versions of .NET Framework?
Yes, you can install multiple .NET Framework versions. Different applications require different versions and can coincide peacefully on the same PC. Only install .NET Framework versions that you actually need.
2. How long are .NET Framework versions supported?
.NET Framework 3.5 SP1 is supported through October 10, 2028. This is ideal for apps that need 2.0, 3.0, and/or 3.5. These are supported long term since they’re the most popular and stable older versions.
Versions 4.0 through 4.5.1 are no longer supported. Versions 4.5.2 through 4.6.1 wukk lose support on April 26, 2022.
Versions 4.6.2 and up currently do not have have an end-of-support date listed.
3. How can I check compatibility?
If you’re not sure if your PC will support a specific .NET Framework version that you want to install, you can easily check. Microsoft has a list of dependencies and system requirements for every .NET Framework version.
You should now be able to run programs that require older versions of the .NET Framework on your PC. Let us know in the comments section which of these methods to install Microsoft NET Framework worked for you.
Read on to learn about the latest Windows update problems and how to fix them.
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