How to Download and Install Microsoft .NET Framework on Windows

As you work on your computer, you may notice that some software requires NET Framework earlier versions of the framework that are not included in the current version of Windows. In some cases, the Windows operating system detects this automatically and prompts you to install the required version of the Microsoft .NET Framework, but this does not always happen.

The Microsoft .NET Framework is an open source software development environment. The first version was released by Microsoft in 2002. The .NET Framework includes several components: the command language runtime and the Framework class library.

This software is designed to make it easy to develop and use web and desktop applications in multiple programming languages. This allows developers to build Windows applications, Windows Server applications, or XML Web services on the same platform.

Many applications on Windows require a specific .NET Framework package to be installed on the operating system or these programs will not be able to start and run on the computer.

You can install several different versions of the .NET Framework because applications need different versions of the development environment and can be used on the same PC at the same time.

This guide will show you how to check the installed versions of Microsoft .NET Framework on your computer and how to download and install Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 3.0 and 3.5 on Windows. The suggested methods are suitable for Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7.

How to check installed versions of .NET Framework

When in doubt, you can find out the version of the .NET Framework using the built-in Windows tools. Choose from several methods: File Explorer, Command Prompt, or PowerShell.

The fastest and easiest way to check the .NET Framework version is to use Windows Explorer. Open Explorer and follow the path (in most cases, the system is installed on the “C:” drive:

C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework

Each folder with numbers beginning with “v” contains a different version of the .NET Framework.

The “Microsoft.NET” folder contains the “Framework” and “Framework64” folders.

Using the command line, you can find out versions of the Microsoft .NET Framework in the following way:

  1. Type “cmd” into the Windows search box.
  2. Run command prompt as administrator.
  3. In the command line interpreter window, type the command, and then press “Enter”:
reg query "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\NET Framework Setup\NDP" /s

The command prompt window will display the installed versions of the .NET Framework.

In Windows PowerShell, go through the steps:

  1. Run Windows PowerShell on the computer as an administrator.
  2. In a shell window, run the command:
Get-ChildItem 'HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\NET Framework Setup\NDP' -recurse | Get-ItemProperty -name Version -EA 0 | Where { $_.PSChildName -match '^(?![SW])\p{L}'} | Select PSChildName, Version

In Windows 11, these commands can also be run from the Windows Terminal (Administrator) by opening Command Prompt or PowerShell respectively.

Currently, the latest version is .NET Framework 4.8.

This list includes all versions of the .NET Framework:

  • .NET Framework 1.0
  • .NET Framework 1.1
  • .NET Framework 2.0
  • .NET Framework 3.0
  • .NET Framework 3.5 (installing version 3.5 also installs versions 2.0 and 3.0)
  • .NET Framework 4.0
  • .NET Framework 4.5
  • .NET Framework 4.5.1
  • .NET Framework 4.5.2
  • .NET Framework 4.6
  • .NET Framework 4.6.1
  • .NET Framework 4.6.2
  • .NET Framework 4.7
  • .NET Framework 4.7.1
  • .NET Framework 4.7.2
  • .NET Framework 4.8

Starting with NET Framework 4.0, installing a newer version replaces the current version with the latest version that will be displayed on the Windows operating system.

.NET Framework 3.5 SP1 is supported until October 10, 2028. This is the ideal solution for applications requiring 2.0, 3.0 and 3.5 versions, with the most popular and stable old versions with long-term support.

Versions of the .NET Framework 4.0 through 4.6.1 are no longer supported, and starting with version 4.6.2 no end of support dates have yet been set.

You can check in advance whether your version of Windows supports the particular version of the .NET Framework that you want to install. The Microsoft site has a list of dependencies and system requirements for each version of the .NET Framework: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dotnet/framework/migration-guide/versions-and-dependencies .

Installing Microsoft Net Framework from Windows Update

If an application needs a specific component of the .NET Framework, the operating system may offer to install it on your PC. You must be connected to the Internet to perform this operation, as the component will be downloaded from the network.

Agree to install the appropriate version of the .NET Framework from Windows Update.

How to set NET Framework version in Windows Components

You can enable the appropriate version of the .NET Framework yourself, after which it will be downloaded and installed on your device. To do this, use the Windows Components tool, with which you can enable or disable some system features.

You need a working internet connection to use this method.

Do the following:

  1. Press the “Win” + “R” keys on your keyboard.
  2. In the “Run” dialog box, enter the command: “optionalfeatures”, click “OK”.
  3. In the “Turn Windows features on or off” window, check the “.NET Framework 3.5 (includes .NET 2.0 and 3.0)” box.
  4. Confirm your actions by clicking on “OK”.
  5. It will then connect to Windows Update to install the .NET Framework 3.5 on your computer.
  6. After applying the required changes, close the component installation window.
  7. Restart your computer to complete the installation.

Installing Microsoft .NET Framework from Windows installation media without internet

You can use the Windows installation media to install older versions of the .NET framework on your computer. This process does not require an active Internet connection.

Do the following:

  1. Connect a bootable Windows flash drive to your computer, or insert a DVD with a burned Windows image into the drive.
  2. Then open File Explorer and under “This PC” note the letter of the connected installation media (“H:” in my case, you will most likely have a different letter).
  3. Run command prompt as administrator.
  4. Run the following command:
Dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFx3 /All /LimitAccess /Source:X:\\sources\\sxs

Note: Replace “X” with the drive letter of the installation media on your computer.

  1. Restart your PC.

Downloading the .NET Framework from the official Microsoft website

You can download the .NET Framework from the official Microsoft website and then manually install it on your PC. Installation uses the .NET Framework standalone installer or the web installer.

Versions of the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 through 4.8 are available for download, but not all are actively supported. Select the version you want and download the required runtime variant.

You need to choose: .NET Framework offline installer with all components, or web installer, which will download the necessary data from the Microsoft download site.

You can get the Microsoft .NET Framework from these links:

You will then need to run the .NET Framework installer on the computer to install it on the system.

Troubleshooting .NET Framework Installation

Installing the .NET Framework sometimes has problems. Some of the most common problems when NET Framework is not installed on a computer are:

  • compatibility errors;
  • invalid installation;
  • problems with Windows Update;
  • corrupted download.

If you receive an incompatibility message with your OS, it means that the version you are trying to install is incompatible and will not work on your computer. If your system supports this version of the Microsoft .NET Framework, install the latest Windows updates. This error usually occurs when trying to install a newer version on an older computer.

If your PC is running an unlicensed copy of Windows, the .NET Framework may not install at all. The only solution is to activate the operating system.

If you receive error messages related to a specific KB number, or if additional updates are required, install all the latest Windows updates before continuing to install the .NET Framework application.

If you receive an error about a corrupted installation, disable and remove the problematic installation in Windows components. Then manually download the desired version and install it on your computer.

You can use the Microsoft .NET Framework Repair Tool to fix issues by installing, updating, or repairing your software environment: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=30135 .

Article Conclusions

Some applications require different versions of the .NET Framework to be installed. You can install the required version of the Microsoft .NET Framework on your computer in several ways from the Windows operating system or download the component from the official download site for subsequent installation. You will then be able to run programs on your PC that require older versions of the .NET Framework.

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