Tutorial Windows: Guide to a Fully Functional .NET Framework in Windows

A fresh install of Windows doesn’t mean every program you can install on this operating system now runs smoothly. Some applications rely on other Microsoft components that are left out by default so they don’t take up space and resources for no reason.

Among others, .NET Framework (pronounced dot net) is a popular demand when it comes to software components. It’s a package that contains necessary class libraries so that developers can attempt to create Windows programs a bit more easily. In most cases, you also need it installed on your computer to be able to run specific items.

Just like anything that runs on a Windows-based PC, it too can break down and cause compatibility issues. What’s more, having the latest version installed doesn’t ensure functionality of programs that rely on .NET Framework. As such, we’re going to go through some tips on how to check for, install, repair, and clean .NET Framework.

How can I tell what .NET Framework is on my PC?

From the system registries

Since it’s a service that works hand in hand with Windows core components, it reserves some space in the system registries. If you’re not really willing to go online and grab a program that can check the installed version, or the target PC isn’t connected to the Internet for this task, here’s how to find the installed version from the system registry.

Step 1: Access the Registry Editor by pressing Win + S in order to Run regedit.

Step 2: Navigate to the following location HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftNET Framework SetupNDP and expand the NDP key.

For versions 1 to 4 of .NET Framework, you only need to look at the subkey to identify it. For more details, you can select the Key version folder from the left navigation pane, and check the Version string from the right pane. In addition, location is shown in the InstallPath string.

In case you’re interested in versions 4.5 and above, expand the v4.x (where x is the update) and click either Client or Full in the left navigation pane. The exact version is shown in the Version string.

Installed updates

Although a case of contagious suspicion arose after the release of Windows 10 due to different data-tracking techniques used by Microsoft, system updates are still an important aspect, especially because of the various issues with this latest operating system.

The .NET Framework component is also enhanced through the Windows Updates center, so it’s a good idea to keep updates active if you rely on this particular framework for work. They can be found in the system registries. Just navigate here HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREWow6432NodeMicrosoftUpdates and you can clearly see them enlisted for each installed .NET Framework version, with the KB (Knowledge Base) prefix.

Important Note: Don’t go off removing any of the registry keys, or you risk making applications unusable, or worse, your whole operating system.

From the command prompt

One way or another, the command prompt started it all. It’s the basic method of managing any system-related and external operations, being able to help you here as well. All you need to do is fire up Command Prompt and write down this command:

dir %WINDIR%Microsoft.NetFrameworkv*

Note: This method only shows versions 1 to 4 because later editions are found in a subdirectory of version 4.

For some time, Microsoft has made .NET Framework a default Windows feature and gets installed along with the operating system. Below are version distributions across different Windows iterations. Just remember that having the latest one doesn’t mean all other dependencies work.

Operating System Defautl .NET Version Installed
Windows Server 2003 x86 1.1
Windows Server 2003 x64 None
Windows Server 2003 R2 2.0
Windows Server 2008 RTM 2.0 SP1 & 3.0 SP1
Windows Server 2008 SP1 2.0 SP1 & 3.0 SP1
Windows Server 2008 SP2 2.0 SP2 & 3.0 SP2
Windows Server 2008 R2 RTM 2.0 SP2 & 3.0 SP2 & 3.5 SP1 (3.5.1)
Windows Server 2012 RTM 4.5 RTM
Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM 4.5.1 RTM
Windows Vista RTM 2.0 RTM & 3.0 RTM
Windows Vista SP1 2.0 SP1 & 3.0 SP1
Windows Vista SP2 2.0 SP2 & 3.0 SP2
Windows 7 RTM 2.0 SP2 & 3.0 SP2 & 3.5 SP1 (3.5.1)
Windows 8 RTM 4.5 RTM
Windows 8.1 RTM 4.5.1 RTM
Windows 10 RTM 4.6 RTM

Where can I get all versions of .NET Framework from?

Since one of our main goals is to provide an updated software database where you can browse and download almost any kind of computer program, .NET Framework can also be found here. Since it’s an important Windows feature, Microsoft provides download links and descriptions on its website, as well. If that location doesn’t suit you either, you can always ask Google.

There’s yet another method to install versions 2 and 3 from the default set of Windows features, and this can also be done without an active Internet connection. However, you do need the installation CD/DVD/USB because the required files are inside the setup package.

Step 1: Insert the media disc containing the Windows installation package.

Leave the media disc inside until the process is finished. At this location F:sourcessxs there needs to be a lonely CAB file, which is exactly what you need.

Note: If the installation media contains both system architectures, then the location looks like this F:x64sourcessxs or x86 depending on the one of interest. Note that the architecture also applies to .NET Framework, so pay attention to what you choose.

Step 2: Right-click the Start Menu button and choose to open Command Prompt (Admin).

Step 3: Run the following command:

General package:
Dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFX3 /All /Source:F:sourcessxs /LimitAccess
Dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFX3 /All /Source:F:x86sourcessxs /LimitAccess
Dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFX3 /All /Source:F:x64sourcessxs /LimitAccess

Important Note: Make sure you write the correct drive letter, otherwise Command Prompt can’t identify the package location and execute the command.

Step 4: Now, press Win + S to Turn Windows Features On or Off. You need to see .NET Framework 3.5 (includes .NET 2.0 and 3.0) marked as enabled.

Note: If you’re connected to the Internet, then Windows can automatically grab .NET Framework 2.0, 3.0, and 3.5 simply by manually checking the option like in Step 5, without the need for the installation disc. Applying these changes might also ask for a system restart, so make sure to save your work.

In order to remove .NET Framework from your PC or older versions, you can simply uncheck the corresponding entries in the Windows Features list. Additionally, you can grab .NET Framework Cleanup Tool for faster management. Note that a system restart is required to finish the process.

I can’t get .NET Framework to install and related apps don’t work. Help?

Like any other Windows component or computer program, this too can get seriously damaged. Here are a couple of things you can do:

Remove all versions of .NET Framework from your computer and install the one you need. You can use the .NET Framework Cleanup Tool to quickly remove it from the system.
Download, install, and run the Microsoft .NET Framework Repair Tool and follow the steps required to fix any existing issues.
Finally, the easy way around
Since getting .NET Framework to be fully functional can sometimes be a pain, although chances for this to happen are low, developers came out with a neat application to scan, reveal, and let you download .NET Framework versions you need. It goes by the name of ASoft .NET Version Detector, and not only does it show installed versions but deployed updates as well. Download and info here.

A few last words

Whether you’re just spending some quality time online to get in touch with your friends or using the computer like a boss, it’s good to keep .NET Framework on your computer, because you never know what application you desperately need to run and can’t because of missing Windows features such as this one. Go ahead, keep your computer updated, or at least make sure .NET Framework is.