Chronicling .NET’s 20-year journey


“We all knew .NET was going to change a programmer’s life,” said Anders Hejlsbergchief architect C# and decorated engineer at Microsoft during a celebration video of NET completing its 20 years of existence. Over the years, this pioneering software framework has developed a loyal fan base and currently has over five million developers use it.

.NET also scores highly in developer surveys. For example, in the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2021.NET has become the most popular framework for developers.

Image: stack overflow

Additionally, .NET has risen to the top of the CNCF report of the 30 fastest open source projects on GitHub from 2020 to 2021.

Image: CNCF

On the 20th anniversary, Twitter was filled with reactions from techies recounting their first encounter with .NET.


.NET is an open source development platform that allows users to write .NET applications in C#, F#, or Visual Basic. The code runs natively on any compatible operating system in .NET. The free platform is used to build for web, mobile, desktop, gaming, and IoT.

The last version .NET 6, dubbed “the fastest .NET yet” by Microsoft, was released last November. It was also the first release to natively support Apple Silicon (Arm64).



Released in 2002, .NET was R allowed developers to build Windows Forms and Web (ASP.NET) applications on C# and Visual Basic.

.NET Framework provides the foundation for .NET XML Web services. “Visual Studio .NET provides developers with a toolkit for creating such web services and web service-based applications.

Beth Massi, Marketing Director, .NET noted“With the rise of the Internet, the world discovered an easier way to share information. Technology moved to distributed systems that communicated over the Internet. .NET was designed for this Internet revolution.


F# enters the picture

2005 was another landmark year as F#, the first working .NET programming language, was developed by Don Syme of Microsoft Research. F# is based on the OCaml functional programming language and is used to build web, cloud, and data science applications. In 2008, Microsoft released the source code for ASP.NET MVC.

Picture: Similartech


Go open source

2014 was a landmark year in the .NET journey. At Build 2014 held in April, Microsoft announced the open source “Roslyn” (.NET Compiler Platform). In November, .NET Core has also been made open source with the framework libraries.

According to Microsoft, the two main reasons behind the move to open source were to lay the foundation for a cross-platform as well as to build a stronger ecosystem.

Launch of the .NET Foundation

The .NET Foundation was also announced in 2014 to promote open source software development. The independent non-profit organization was created to support an innovative and commercially friendly open source ecosystem around the .NET platform.

Image: .NET Foundation


Release of .NET Core 1.0

In June 2016, .NET Core 1.0, ASP.NET Core 1.0, and Entity Framework Core 1.0 were released on Windows, OS X, and Linux along with the .NET Core runtime, libraries, and ASP.NET Core libraries. Visual Studio team also released Visual Studio 2015 Update 3. As a result, .NET Core 2.0 was released in 2017 and .NET Core 3.0 in 2019.

Acquiring Xamarin

In February 2016, .NET acquired Xamarin mobile application development platform provider. The combination of Xamarin, Visual Studio, Visual Studio Team Services, and Azure provided a complete mobile app development solution.


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