.NET framework

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.NET framework

(language, tool, library)
A software development and execution environment designed by Microsoft as a direct competitor to Java. .NET framework should not be confused with Microsoft's past labeling of a line of products as ".NET".

.NET simplifies interoperability between languages and machines on Microsoft Windows especially, although not specifically, for web based services. Essentially the .NET framework consists of the CLR (common language runtime), CTS (common type system), CLS (common language system), and IL (intermediate language).

The CLR consists of a number of resources provided to .NET applications such as the security model, type system and .NET classes (c.f. Java classes). The CTS is the range of all types that .NET understands although it is not necessarily the case that a .NET program will understand all of these types. The CLS however is a subset of the CTS which all .NET languages must support: any two .NET languages can interoperate via. the CLS.

All .NET languages are at some stage compiled into the IL, a byte-code like language. However unlike a standard Java run time environment, the IL is converted to machine code either upon installation of the software or at run time by a just in time compiler (JIT). The IL is not interpretted.

.NET's main weakness is that Microsoft have ignored the Unix and mainframe environments, effectively ruling .NET out of use in many enterprise environments. However there is Mono - an open source .NET framework for Unix}.

.NET was based on research by Steven Lucco on a product called OmniVM, sold by Colusa software. Attracted to OmniVM since VB and C/C++ environments were already available, Microsoft bought Colusa in 1996. Microsoft provides .NET compilers for C#, C++, VB, and Jscript.

.NET Framework

An application software platform from Microsoft, introduced in 2002 and commonly called .NET ("dot net"). The .NET platform is similar in purpose to the Java EE platform, and like Java's JVM runtime engine, .NET's runtime engine must be installed in the computer in order to run the many .NET applications on the market. The .NET Framework supports SOAP-based Web services as well as Microsoft's legacy Component Object Model (see COM).

.NET Programming Languages
NET is similar to Java because it uses an intermediate bytecode language that can be executed on any hardware platform that has a runtime engine. Microsoft's languages are C# (C Sharp), J# (J Sharp), Managed C++, JScript.NET and Visual Basic.NET. Other languages have been reengineered in the European version of .NET, called the Common Language Infrastructure (see CLI). See C# and J#.

.NET compilers generate Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL) bytecode, which is executed by the .NET Common Language Runtime engine (see CLR).

.NET Versions
.NET Framework 1.0 introduced the Common Language Runtime (CLR) and .NET Framework 2.0 added enhancements. .NET Framework 3.0 included the Windows programming interface (API) originally known as "WinFX," which is backward compatible with the Win32 API. .NET Framework 3.0 added the following four subsystems and was installed with Windows, starting with Vista. .NET Framework 3.5 added enhancements and introduced a client-only version (see .NET Framework Client Profile). .NET Framework 4.0 added parallel processing and language enhancements. See CLR and CLI.

The User Interface (WPF)
Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) provides the user interface. It takes advantage of advanced 3D graphics found in many computers to display a transparent, glass-like appearance. See Windows Presentation Foundation.

Messaging (WCF)
Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) enables applications to communicate with each other locally and remotely, integrating local messaging with Web services. See Windows Communication Foundation.

Workflow (WWF)
Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF) is used to integrate applications and automate tasks. Workflow structures can be defined in the XML Application Markup Language. See Windows Workflow Foundation.

User Identity (WCS)
Windows CardSpace (WCS) provides an authentication system for logging into a website and transferring personal information. See Windows CardSpace.