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A runtime environment is the execution environment provided to an application or software by the operating system. In a runtime environment, the application can send instructions or commands to the processor and access other system resources such as RAM, which otherwise is not possible as most programming languages used are high level languages.
The runtime environment provides a state for the target machine to have access to resources such as software libraries, system variables and environment variables, and provide all necessary services and support to the processes involved in the execution of the application or program. In certain software or applications such as Adobe Flash Player or Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer the runtime environment is available to end users as well.
Software developers need a runtime environment to test their software's functioning. As a result, all software development applications include a runtime environment component which allows the testing of the application during execution. Tracking bugs or debugging for any errors are done in most applications with the help of runtime environments. Runtime execution continues even if the application or program crashes. Most runtime environments are capable of reporting of why an application or program crashed. One of the more popular runtime environments is Java, which helps Java applets and applications to be executed in any machine which has a Java runtime environment installed.