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The .NET framework is a software development framework from Microsoft. It provides a controlled programming environment where software can be developed, installed and executed on Windows-based operating systems.
The principal design features are:
.NET is central to Microsoft’s over-arching development strategy and is the organization’s competition to Java. It is so central to development on Windows platforms, the term’s usage depends on context. For example, it’s common to simply talk generally about a ".NET developer" as a programmer who works in a Microsoft development environment. On the other hand, when writing code, the developer references what specific version of the Framework is being worked with — .NET 2.0, which came out in 2005, is much different than .NET 4.0, which was shipped in 2010.
Even though the term is written as “.NET”, it is not an acronym. It is pronounced as “dot net” and is sometimes written as dotnet or dot-net.