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Overview of the .NET Framework

This section provides conceptual overviews of the key features of the .NET Framework, including the common language runtime, the .NET Framework class library, and cross-language interoperability.


For a general introduction to the .NET Framework for both users and developers, see the .NET Framework 4 home page.

In This Section

  • .NET Framework Conceptual Overview
    Introduces the .NET Framework architecture and its features.

  • Installing the .NET Framework
    Provides information about .NET Framework stand-alone executable and Web bootstrapper packages, language packs, and installation requirements.

  • Common Language Runtime (CLR)
    Explains the features and benefits of the common language runtime, a run-time environment that manages the execution of code and provides services that simplify the development process.

  • Common Type System
    Identifies the types supported by the common language runtime.

  • Metadata and Self-Describing Components
    Explains how the .NET Framework simplifies component interoperation by allowing compilers to emit additional declarative information, or metadata, into all modules and assemblies.

  • Cross-Language Interoperability
    Explains how managed objects created in different programming languages can interact with one another.

  • Assemblies in the Common Language Runtime
    Defines the concept of assemblies, which are collections of types and resources that form logical units of functionality. Assemblies are the fundamental units of deployment, version control, reuse, activation scoping, and security permissions.

  • Application Domains
    Explains how to use application domains to provide isolation between applications.

  • .NET Framework Class Library Overview
    Introduces the library of types provided by the .NET Framework, which expedites and optimizes the development process and gives you access to system functionality.

  • Runtime Hosts
    Describes the runtime hosts supported by the .NET Framework, including ASP.NET, Internet Explorer, and shell executables.

  • .NET Framework Guidelines and Best Practices
    Provides links to topics that describe principles, tips, and techniques for implementing .NET Framework technologies.

  • How-to and Walkthrough Directory
    Provides links to topics that provide example code, describe how to perform particular tasks, and describe complete scenarios.

  • .NET Framework System Requirements
    Provides hardware, operating system, and software requirements for the .NET Framework.

  • .NET Framework Class Library
    Provides programming information about the classes, interfaces, and value types that are included in the .NET Framework. This library provides access to system functionality and is designed to be the foundation on which .NET Framework applications, components, and controls are built.

  • What's New in the .NET Framework 4
    Describes new features and changes in the latest version of the .NET Framework.