The .NET Framework is an integral Windows component that supports building and running desktop applications and Web services. It provides a managed execution environment, simplified development and deployment, and support for a wide variety of programming languages. Two key components are the common language runtime (CLR), which manages memory, code execution, and other system services, and the .NET Framework class library, which is a collection of reusable types you can use to develop your applications. The .NET Framework also includes technologies such as ADO.NET, ASP.NET, Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), and Windows Workflow Foundation (WF). For information about the key features of the .NET Framework, see the overview.
This section of the MSDN Library contains documentation for all versions of the .NET Framework that are currently available. The documentation for each version includes an extensive class library reference, conceptual overviews, step-by-step procedures, and code examples.
The latest version of the .NET Framework, which was released with Visual Studio 2010. (See what's new.)
The .NET Framework version that was released with Visual Studio 2008. (See key features and changes.)
The .NET Framework version that was released with the Windows SDK for Windows Vista. This version includes the .NET Framework 2.0 and added technologies such as WPF, WCF, WF, and Windows CardSpace.
The .NET Framework version that was released with Visual Studio 2005. (See key features and changes.)
The .NET Framework version that was released with Visual Studio .NET. (See key features and changes.)
This section of the MSDN Library also contains documentation for the following technologies that extend .NET Framework features and services, and includes a selection of books and articles:
A technology that is built on top of ADO.NET Entity Framework 4, which is included in the .NET Framework 4. The Entity Framework 4.1 introduces a new productivity API and enables Code First development. Code First enables you to define your model by using managed C# or Visual Basic classes, configure the model, and generate a database schema from your model or map it to an existing database.
A library for composing asynchronous and event-based programs by using observable sequences and LINQ-style query operators.
The beta version of Silverlight 5 for building media experiences and rich interactive applications for the Web, desktop, and the Windows Phone. (See What’s New in Silverlight 5 Beta.)
A cross-browser, cross-platform implementation of the .NET Framework for building media experiences and rich interactive applications for the Web and the Windows Phone.
A development platform that helps you create interactive Microsoft Surface applications by using the .NET Framework. This technology supports high-end graphics and multiuser interaction through natural gestures, touch, and physical objects.
A set of .NET Framework classes that help you build claims-aware, relying party applications and security token services. WIF requires the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1.
A set of integrated technologies that make it easier to build, scale, and manage Web and composite applications that run on Internet Information Services (IIS).
A selection of technical articles and white papers about .NET Framework technologies.
Selected chapters from books about ADO.NET, WCF, and other .NET Framework technologies.