No easy solutions to the .NET Framework

I had this discussion this week with longtime reader Jim `, which I present here in hopes of it being useful to someone. When I don’t have time to write well, maybe I can at least post something of a little use.

I’m carefully making the switch from WinXP to Win7 and keep running across various versions of Microsoft’s NetFramework.

For example, here’s my browser user string:

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.1; Deepnet Explorer 1.5.3; Smart 2×2; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.0.04506.30;
.NET CLR 3.0.04506.648; .NET CLR 3.5.21022; .NET4.0C; .NET4.0E; .NET CLR 3.0.4506.2152; .NET CLR 3.5.30729)


Mozilla/4.0 (compatible
MSIE 7.0
Windows NT 5.1
Deepnet Explorer 1.5.3
Smart 2×2
.NET CLR 2.0.50727
.NET CLR 3.0.04506.30
.NET CLR 3.0.04506.648
.NET CLR 3.5.21022
.NET CLR 3.0.4506.2152
.NET CLR 3.5.30729)

Not only does each individual NetFramework download take up space, but each update does too. Especially those pesky “Automatic Updates” from MSFT which retain the old files, the new files, and a voluminous record of changes made. Not to mention what they do to the registry during the update process!

Win7, once I finally settle on an install, will reside on an SSD, and the Scots in me can’t bear that waste of space and bandwidth.

So what do I really need? Do I really need all three versions: 2,3 and 4? (I’d swear there’s a version 4 out there, just waiting for me to find it)

I do run some older software which will ask for its particular “latest version” so I’d guess I need all three.

How do I find the latest, standalone installer of each version?



I used to run into this problem a lot, with different programs that required different specific versions of .NET. That’s one reason I’ve always hated .NET with a passion. Java’s a pain but .NET is a lot worse. I even once ran into a problem of two different programs that required different .NET versions, and one broke if I installed the version of .NET for the other.

I don’t know of any good solution. It wasn’t for any lack of looking, as running out of space on C drives on production servers was a frequent problem. In some extreme cases, I resorted to compressing the .NET Framework directory inside C:\Windows. Under XP, it didn’t break anything, but I took a bit of a performance hit, especially when installing patches. The other thing you can do is try running your programs just with whatever Windows 7 comes with, then install whatever older versions are necessary to appease the programs you need.

These days everything I run works with whatever version of .NET comes with Windows 7, so I count my blessings. Given a choice between two programs, one written in .NET and one written in anything else, I choose the latter.

I don’t know of any way to get a pre-patched .NET Framework. That would have saved me considerable pain when building servers, since sometimes patches fail, and they take up a lot of disk space. I told my boss a few months ago that sometimes I miss getting hands-on with servers, but that’s the one part of it that I definitely don’t miss.

I doubt any of this helps you much, though you may want to try compressing C:\Windows\Microsoft.Net and see if you can live with the performance. I see on the machine I’m typing this on, it’s a mere half-gig in size. What a waste.


Dave, that’s been my impression too. Short of hunting down every last iteration every couple of months like I do for Chrome, I don’t think there is one.

I hate to have troubled you for such a long reply. Maybe you can use it for fodder.

I’ll make the switch to Win7 one of these days, but then the heartache will really start when I go dealing with its file system and permissions. I’d pay an extra $50 for God Mode (and I don’t mean super-admin, I mean GOD MODE: all access, all the time!!!)

I was running DOS 6.22 earlier today, and the commands flew off my fingertips. Does it REALLY have to be this hard?



As for the latter issue, I don’t know. I’m still getting used to ctrl-clicking on things myself. I think those of us who can type DOS commands half asleep are the one percent these days, and no longer the target audience.

The impression I get is that Microsoft is moving away from .NET. I can only hope that’s the case, and that the rest of the world moves away from it too, as I’d be hard pressed to find a bigger mess.

2 thoughts on “No easy solutions to the .NET Framework

  • January 8, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    From what information do you form the impression that MS is moving away from .NET?

    When do you, in 2011, have an issue of disk space on a system partition of a server?

    • January 8, 2012 at 9:30 pm

      Disk space on system partitions: From shortsighted policies that dictate an arbitrary size for the C drive and put the majority of the space on other partitions. The size goes up over time, but old servers never die, so the older servers were always an issue. Until I left that job in 2009, I was spending a good 5-6 hours a week moving stuff around to keep servers from running out of space.

      Regarding moving away from .NET, I thought I read it in several of the articles about Windows 8.

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