The .NET Framework (pronounced dot net) is a software framework that runs primarily on Microsoft Windows. It includes a largelibrary and provides language interoperability (each language can use code written in other languages) across several programming languages. Programs written for the .NET Framework execute in a software environment (as contrasted to hardware environment), known as the Common Language Runtime (CLR), an application virtual machine that provides important services such as security,memory management, and exception handling. The class library and the CLR together constitute the .NET Framework.
The .NET Framework's Base Class Library provides user interface, data access, database connectivity, cryptography, web application development, numeric algorithms, and network communications. Programmers produce software by combining their ownsource code with the .NET Framework and other libraries. The .NET Framework is intended to be used by most new applications created for the Windows platform. Microsoft also produces a popular integrated development environment largely for .NET software called Visual Studio.
Microsoft started the development on the .NET Framework in the late 1990s originally under the name of Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS). By late 2000 the first beta versions of .NET 1.0 were released.
Version 3.0 of the .NET Framework is included with Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista. Version 3.5 is included with Windows 7, and can also be installed on Windows XP and the Windows Server 2003 family of operating systems. On 12 April 2010, .NET Framework 4 was released alongside Visual Studio 2010.
The .NET Framework family also includes two versions for mobile or embedded device use. A reduced version of the framework, the.NET Compact Framework, is available on Windows CE platforms, including Windows Mobile devices such as smartphones. Additionally, the .NET Micro Framework is targeted at severely resource-constrained devices.