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.NET framework is an important support library for many programs. Unfortunately, its versioning and updating leave a lot to be desired.
Do i need Microsoft .net framework 1.1 and 2.0 service pack 1 and 3.0 service pack 1 on my desk top computer? I don't develop new software.
The fact that you don't develop software actually has nothing to do with anything here.
.NET is most likely used by other software you have installed on your machine.
.NET versioning, unfortunately, is apparently a mess.
To cut to the chase: I wouldn't delete a thing. It possible that you do, in fact, need all those different versions of .NET - or not. We could go through a long exhaustive search to see which programs you have installed might require one version or the other, but in my opinion it's just not worth it.
OK, just what is the .NET framework?
To grossly oversimplify, it's a package of common support software that can be used by programs so that they don't all have to re-write the same software over and over again. More specifically, it's aimed at users of Microsoft's newer versions of programming languages like C#, Visual Basic .NET and others. The .NET framework provides a broad array of functionality that can be used by programs written in those languages to perform common tasks, most commonly things that involve interacting with Windows itself.
So you may well have programs installed on your machine that rely on the .NET framework, and thus deleting .NET will cause that program to fail. Over time, more and more programs have come to rely on .NET, so chances are actually pretty high that you have at least one and perhaps more that rely on .NET.
You get the .NET framework either of three ways:
It might already be on your machine. Certain versions of the .NET framework are pre-installed on some versions of Windows.
A program you install might install it. The .NET framework is available in what are called "redistributable packages", which means nothing more than software vendors can include it in the software they deliver to you. If a program requires the .NET framework, then it may include it on its CD or in its download, and install it automatically as part of installing the program.
You may be instructed to download it. The .NET framework tends to be large, and because it's also fairly common these days, many vendors are opting not to actually include it in their distributions, but instead ask you to download and install it if you don't already have the required version.
Now, about those versions.
The .NET framework versions installed on my machine
Normally, it's safe to assume that version 2 of some software replaces version 1, and that version 3 replaces both 1 and 2. Each later version includes everything in the prior versions, so that the prior versions are no longer necessary.
Apparently the .NET framework isn't "normal". For example, software that requires .NET framework version 1 might not work if only version 2 is installed. In fact, you'll already note that while most software upgrades replace the previous versions, .NET framework installations do not. If you install version N+1, version N remains.
That's kind of frustrating.
But the solution is simple: leave them there. Yes, they eat up more disk space, but unless you really know what you're doing or want to spend a lot of time experimenting (back up first!), just leave them there and get on with your life.
Rumors are that the mess will get cleaned up in a future version, but in all honesty, I'm skeptical.
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