Microsoft .NET is a wide collection of products and technologies with a dependence on the Microsoft .NET Framework.
The .NET Framework allows you to:
Apply common skills across a variety of devices, application types, and programming tasks
Integrate with other tools and technologies to build the right solution with less work
Build compelling applications faster
The Microsoft .NET Framework is a software framework that includes a large library of coded solutions to common programming problems and a virtual machine that manages the execution of programs.
The .NET Framework is:
Common Language Runtime – provides an abstraction layer over the operating system
Base Class Libraries – pre-built code for common low-level programming tasks
Development frameworks and technologies – reusable, customizable solutions for larger programming tasks
The framework's Base Class Library provides a large range of features including user interface, data access, database connectivity, cryptography, web application development, numeric algorithms, and network communications. The class library is used by programmers, who combine it with their own code to produce applications.
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 it can also be installed on Windows XP and the Windows Server 2003 family of operating systems.
Version 4.0 was released in April 2010, along with the launch of Visual Studio 2010. Version 4.0 of the .NET Framework can be installed on Windows XP up to Windows 7 with the exception of Windows Server 2008 Core editions.