MSBuild target framework and target platform
A project can be built to run on a target framework, which is a particular version of the .NET Framework, and a target platform, which is a particular software architecture. For example, you can target an application to run on the .NET Framework 2.0 on a 32-bit platform that is compatible with the 80x86 processor family ("x86"). The combination of target framework and target platform is known as the target context.
This article shows the old way to specify a target framework. SDK-style projects enable different TargetFrameworks like netstandard. For more info, see Target frameworks.
Target framework and profile
A target framework is the particular version of the .NET Framework that your project is built to run on. Specification of a target framework is required because it enables compiler features and assembly references that are exclusive to that version of the framework.
Currently, the following versions of the .NET Framework are available for use:
The .NET Framework 2.0 (included in Visual Studio 2005)
The .NET Framework 3.0 (included in Windows Vista)
The .NET Framework 3.5 (included in Visual Studio 2008)
The .NET Framework 4.0
The .NET Framework 4.5.2
The .NET Framework 4.6 (included in Visual Studio 2015)
The .NET Framework 4.6.1
The .NET Framework 4.6.2
The .NET Framework 4.7
The .NET Framework 4.7.1
The .NET Framework 4.7.2
The .NET Framework 4.8
The versions of the .NET Framework differ from one another in the list of assemblies that each makes available to reference. For example, you cannot build Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) applications unless your project targets the .NET Framework version 3.0 or above.
The target framework is specified in the
TargetFrameworkVersion property in the project file. You can change the target framework for a project by using the project property pages in the Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE). For more information, see How to: Target a version of the .NET Framework. The available values for
A target profile is a subset of a target framework. For example, the .NET Framework 4 Client profile does not include references to the MSBuild assemblies.
Target profiles apply only to portable class libraries.
The target profile is specified in the
TargetFrameworkProfile property in a project file. You can change the target profile by using the target-framework control in the project property pages in the IDE.
A platform is combination of hardware and software that defines a particular runtime environment. For example,
x86designates a 32-bit Windows operating system that is running on an Intel 80x86 processor or its equivalent.
x64designates a 64-bit Windows operating system that is running on an Intel x64 processor or its equivalent.
anycpudesignates output that is configured to be able to run on any platform. Your application runs as a 64-bit process whenever possible and falls back to 32-bit when only that mode is available.
anycpu32bitpreferreddesignates output that runs on any platform. Your application runs in 32-bit mode on systems that support both 64-bit and 32-bit applications.
Xboxdesignates the Microsoft Xbox 360 platform.
ARMcompiles your assembly to run on a computer that has an Advanced RISC Machine (ARM) processor.
ARM64compiles your assembly to run on the 64-bit CLR on a computer that has an Advanced RISC Machine (ARM) processor that supports the A64 instruction set.
A target platform is the particular platform that your project is built to run on. The target platform is specified in the
PlatformTarget build property in a project file. You can change the target platform by using the project property pages or the Configuration Manager in the IDE.
PlatformTarget value is passed to the compiler to determine what output is to be generated. For C# projects, it maps to the C# compiler option
-platform. The platform options are explained in more detail at Compiler options: PlatformTarget.
A target configuration is a subset of a target platform. For example, the
Debug configuration does not include most code optimizations. The target configuration is specified in the
Configuration build property in a project file. You can change the target configuration by using the project property pages or the Configuration Manager.