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Definition: .NET Framework

An application software platform from Microsoft, introduced in 2002 and commonly called "dot net." The .NET platform was initially developed for Windows but has been ported to other operating systems (see Mono).

A Bytecode Language
Like Java, .NET is an intermediate bytecode language that requires a runtime interpreter in the computer to execute. .NET compilers generate Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL) that is executed by the .NET Common Language Runtime engine (see CLR). SOAP-based Web services and Microsoft's legacy Component Object Model (COM) are supported. See SOAP and COM.

Programming Languages
The primary .NET languages are C# (C Sharp), J# (J Sharp), Managed C++, JScript.NET and Visual Basic.NET. Non-Microsoft languages are supported in the European version of .NET (see CLI) as well as the cross platform version (see Mono). See C#, J#, CLI and .NET Framework Client Profile).

.NET Framework Interfaces
See WPF, Windows Communication Foundation, Windows Workflow Foundation and Windows CardSpace.