MTE Explains: What is .NET Framework and Why You Need It to Install Apps in Windows

When installing applications from around the Web, you may have encountered some that require you to have installed various versions of Microsoft's .NET Framework.

The .NET Framework is, in truth, a vital part of many applications from around the Web, no matter their purpose. Let's get started figuring out what that means.

What's a Framework?

Essentially, a framework is something made to support other applications. In the case of the .NET Framework, it contains files and functions that aren't actually within the programs that call upon them, so having these Frameworks save developers the trouble of having to code many of these things all by themselves.

What does .NET mean?

In this context, .NET refers to a group of technologies that allows applications to interact over and through the Internet to a fuller extent. This is used by both local applications and web servers to drive activity over the Internet and is the basis beyond which cloud computing services are built.

.NET uses the following Internet standards:

  • HTTP - You may recognize this. It stands for "HyperText Transfer Protocol", and it's used to determine what your browser and the web server do in response to your commands, like typing in a web address.
  • XML - Extensible Markup Language. This is made for web documents in particular, allowing tags that define different formatting for different things.
  • SOAP - Simple Object Access Protocol. This is an XML-based messaging service used to encode messages before sending them over the network. Messages from SOAP are transmitted through various Internet protocols, like HTTP.
  • UDDI - Universal Description, Discovery and Integration. This acts as a phonebook of sorts, allowing businesses to find each other over the Internet.

So, what's the .NET Framework?

Microsoft .NET Framework logo.

The .NET Framework is a framework of technologies that is used by applications that, in themselves, rely on .NET technologies. Applications that require the .NET Framework usually heavily factor Internet access into their primary usages.

The .NET Framework in itself uses the following:

  • CLR - Common Language Runtime. This manages .NET code, memory, exceptions, debugging, profiling and security. This is also known as the VES, or Virtual Execution System.
  • FCL - Framework Class Library. Name for thousands of classes which are used to define object properties. These classes include runtime functionality, database interaction and other features.
  • ASP.NET - Used to create web pages and services. To do this, it treats everything on a page as an object to run server-side. These pages are then compiled into another language, which is then compiled to native code (for your own machine), which is then run through your processor.

What do I do with it?

First thing's first. Make sure you've grabbed the most recent version from Microsoft's website. Also be sure to use Windows Update to keep your system up to par - some parts of the .NET Framework may not be compatible if you don't have the latest, greatest Windows updates installed onto your computer.

After that, you should be fine. If something goes wrong with installation, consider using the .NET Framework Cleanup tool to get rid of older versions that may be causing you trouble. No applications should be strictly incompatible with a newer version of the Framework, but on the off chance they are, the application will tell you which version you need, after which you need only to search for it and download it to your computer.

Christopher Harper

I'm a longtime gamer, computer nerd, and general tech enthusiast.

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