.NET Framework: From 2.0 to 3.0, to 3.5, to 4.0, and finally to 4.5, what’s the difference?

I thought it would be nice to know what the differences between these .NET Framework versions are.  I will not be discussing here the differences in versions of ASP.NET as this will be a topic on its own under the ASP.NET section.  Same with C#, it will be a topic on its own under the C# section.  Plus I won’t be discussing all the differences here, only the things that matter to me most.  So let’s start.

  • .NET Framework 3.0
    1. The only update to this version (from 2.0) is the inclusion of the following technologies:
    2. Windows Communication Foundation (WCF).  Important to follow this technology if you are into developing service-oriented applications.
    3. Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) .  If you are mostly developing web applications, you probably will not be needing this.
    4. Windows Workflow Foundation (WF).
    5. Windows Cardspace.
    6. .NET Framework 3.0 did not come with any version of Visual Studio.  But .NET Framework 2.0 did and it came with Visual Studio 2005
  • .NET Framework 3.5
    1. The following are some of the features added:
    2. Language-Integrated Query (LINQ) which allows you to query .NET Framework collections, SQL Server databases, ADO.NET Datasets, and XML documents.
    3. Workflow Services which allow you to author WCF services using WF or expose existing WF workflow as a WCF service.
    4. WCF REST Programming Model which allows you to expose WCF web services through basic HTTP requests without requiring SOAP.
      • You can now easily work with syndication feeds in Atom, RSS, or other custom formats, if you’re into blogging applications.
      • With new support to ASP.NET AJAX and Javascript Object Notation (JSON) data format, you can now expose operations from a WCF service to AJAX clients.
      • So what is REST and JSON?
      • REST which stands for Representational State Transfer is basically an architectural style attributed to a distributed system, like the World Wide Web, consisting of clients and servers, dealing with requests and responses revolving around resources.
      • JSON is an alternative to XML for sending data over a network connection that is also text-based like XML but derived from the Javascript language.  It would look something like this:
        "firstName": "John",
        "lastName": "Smith",
        "age": 25,
        "address": {
            "streetAddress": "21 2nd Street",
            "city": "New York",
            "state": "NY",
            "postalCode": 10021
        "phoneNumbers": [
                "type": "home",
                "number": "212 555-1234"
                "type": "fax",
                "number": "646 555-4567"
    1. Peer-to-Peer Networking which allows you to share and collaborate between several network devices without using any server.
    2. ADO.NET Entity Framework which allows you to work with data in a much higher level of abstraction without having to concern with tables and columns, thus reducing code required to create and maintain data-oriented applications.
    3. .NET Framework 3.5 was released with Visual Studio 2008.
    4. For a complete list of what’s new in 3.5, go to this link.
  • .NET Framework 4.0
    1. The following are what’s new in this version:
    2. In-Process Side-by-Side Execution which allows you in your application to load and start multiple versions of .NET Framework in the same process.
    3. Application Domain Diagnostics and Performance Monitoring which allows you to monitor all application domains in the process, not just the process itself.
    4. Parallel Computing which allows you to write efficient, fine-grained, and scalable parallel code in a natural idiom without having to work directly with threads and thread pool.
    5. The rest of the changes are mostly improvements on .NET Framework 3.5.
    6. .NET Framework 4.0 was released with Visual Studio 2010.
    7. For a complete list of what’s new in 4.0, go to this link.
  • .NET Framework 4.5
    1. Some of the features added are:
    2. .NET for Windows Store apps which allows you to build Windows Store apps for Windows.
    3. Portable Class Libraries which allow you to build assemblies that can work without code modification on multiple platforms like Windows 7, Windows 8, Silverlight, Windows Phone, and XBox 360.
    4. The rest of the changes are mostly improvements on .NET Framework 4.0.
    5. .NET Framework 4.5 was released with Visual Studio 2012.
    6. For a complete list of what’s new in 4.5, go to this link.

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