Lifecycle FAQ - .NET and .NET Core

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What is .NET?

.NET is a set of runtime, library and compiler components which can be used in various configurations for desktop, web, cloud and device workloads. Cross-platform and open source, .NET provides a lightweight development model and the flexibility to work a variety of development tools OS platforms. .NET is available on GitHub under the MIT license. .NET refers to several technologies including .NET Core, ASP.NET Core and Entity Framework Core.

How does .NET ship?

.NET ships major releases once a year, around November with even numbered releases like .NET 6, .NET8, etc. being Long Term Support (LTS) releases and odd numbered releases like .NET 5, .NET 7, etc. being Standard Term Support (STS) releases. LTS releases are supported for a minimum of 3 years, or 12 months after a successor LTS release ships. STS releases are supported for a minimum of 18 months, or 6 months after a successor release ships. For more information about .NET releases can be found here.

How will the lifecycle for .NET work?

Lifecycle information for .NET can be found here.

Where can I find the end date for specific releases of .NET?

You can find the end date for all .NET releases here.

How does the lifecycle for ASP.NET Core and Entity Framework Core work?

ASP.NET Core and Entity Framework Core ship as part of .NET releases and will follow the lifecycle of the parent release.

What about third-party components?

In some cases, installing a third-party component or library through NuGet may be a pre-requisite for using .NET. Support for these components will come from the vendor that ships those components or libraries.

.NET releases for certain platforms such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux will be published by Red Hat instead of Microsoft. For these platforms, updates for .NET will be made available to the vendor for deployment through their systems.

What if I take .NET sources from GitHub?

Customers who obtain .NET source code from GitHub and build it themselves can get fixes and updates in source form from GitHub as long as the .NET version has not reached end of support and incorporate these into their own build of .NET.

What is the relationship between .NET and .NET Framework?

.NET and the .NET Framework (generally) have a subset-superset relationship. .NET Core is named as "Core" because it contains the core features from the .NET Framework for both the runtime and framework libraries. For example, .NET Core and the .NET Framework share the GC, the JIT and types such as String and List<T>.

.NET Core was created so that .NET could be open source, cross platform and be used in more resource-constrained environments.

Why don't .NET releases follow the same lifecycle as the .NET Framework?

.NET is a newer development platform and follows modern lifecycle, releases for .NET follow an agile, more rapid release cadence. Applications based on the .NET Framework are widely deployed across hundreds of millions of computers with a high bar for compatibility and stability. This results in less frequent releases for the .NET Framework with fewer changes. Due to these differences, .NET and .NET Framework releases follow their own lifecycle.

I am using .NET Framework 4.5.x or 4.6.x. Does this mean I need to update my application to work with .NET?

.NET Framework versions older than 4.6.2 have reached end of support. If you are using the .NET Framework 4.6.2 or later, you are not required to update your application to work with .NET. That said, the .NET development platform offers several advantages over the legacy Microsoft .NET Framework platform and we encourage you to consider modernizing your apps to leverage modern .NET. You can find more information here.

Where can I learn more about .NET?

You can find more information about .NET at the .NET Foundation website.