.NET Core vs .NET Framework: An In-depth Comparison


There are many factors to consider when choosing between .NET Core and .NET Framework, including compatibility, performance, security, CLI tools, and so on. 

According to StackOverflow's 2021 developer survey, .NET and .NET Core are still the most popular frameworks for business applications. However, up till now, there is still a heated debate among developers about which framework to use. Here's an in-depth comparison of .NET Core and .NET Framework.

.NET refers to a group of frameworks that Microsoft supports like .NET Core and .NET Framework. In contrast to the .NET Framework, .NET Core addresses the limitations of the aging version, thus aligning itself with technological advancements of each version. Below find the list of the most commonly used software development frameworks. 

Here is our full list: 

  • .NET Framework - 35.2%

  • Numpy - 34.84%

  • .NET Core/.NET 5 - 30.5%

  • Pandas - 29,12%

  • TensorFlow - 15.53%

  • React Native - 13.51%

  • Flutter - 14.55%

  • Keras - 11.14% 

  • Qt - 9.8%

  • Torch/Pytorch -  9.78%

  • Cordova - 6.19%

  • Apache Spark  - 4.87%

  • Hadoop - 4.49%


Introduction to the .Net Ecosystem

A server-side application can be built using Microsoft open-source .NET platform for free. In .NET, you can develop web, mobile, gaming, IoT, and desktop applications in a variety of languages (C#, F#, and Visual Basic). Additionally, a .NET framework server-side application can be built on either the .NET Framework or the .NET Core platform.

What is .NET Framework? 

Microsoft introduced the .NET Framework as the first software framework designed exclusively for Windows. The .NET Framework was last released by Microsoft as a proprietary offering with version 4.8. The company hasn't released any new versions since then except for bug fixes and maintenance updates.

.NET Framework facilitates the development and execution of software applications. Furthermore, today's Internet businesses require integrated, service-oriented applications built on the Microsoft .NET Framework. These applications must be able to gather and interact with data from a wide variety of sources, regardless of the platform or language used to accomplish the task. 

The purpose of this article, which is the first of a two-part series, is to demonstrate how the .NET Framework can be used to quickly develop and deploy Web services and applications in any programming language. 

.NET Framework

Windows applications are built and run using .NET Framework, which is part of the Windows operating system. .NET Framework is a partially open-source framework. As part of the .NET Framework, there are three application workloads called WPF, Windows Forms, and ASP.NET. 

The .NET Framework consists of the Common Language Runtime (CLR), the .NET Framework Class Library, and the ASP .NET Framework Class Library. As part of the CLR, you will also find running code, JIT compilers, garbage collection, and a host of other capabilities that make up a common infrastructure while CLR (Common Language Runtime) manages code. As for CIL, it is used to compile the application's code and store it in assemblies (which end in .exe or .dll). 

Installing the .NET Framework on your computer is necessary in order to run applications built with the .NET Framework, although some versions of Windows already have it installed. Each version of the product has a CLR and a library. 

Several versions of the software can be installed simultaneously (only with major versions, however). Due to the absence of braking changes in minor versions, they will override existing versions. According to .NET 4.2.3, the major version is version 4 (the new CLR, which introduces new features). The minor version is version 2 (the new library, which introduces new features), and the last revision is revision 3 (bug fixes).

C:/Windows/Microsoft.NET/Framework (or Framework64) is the usual location for installing the .NET Framework. Each major version is contained in a folder inside the installation package.

What is .NET Core? 

.NET Core is a newer version of the .NET Framework that addresses its limitations. Windows, MacOS, and Linux are all supported by Microsoft .NET Core. Furthermore, .NET Core is an open-source, so the developer community can contribute to its further development. 

It was announced in November 2020 that Microsoft will drop the "Core" branding from .NET 5.0. The most recent version of .NET, 6.0 was released in November 2021. Version 7.0 is due in November 2022. 

NET Core

In 2016, Microsoft released .Net Core (https://github.com/dotnet/core). In this version, application developers have cross-platform capabilities, thanks to a completely independent version. 

There are two components that make up .NET Core: the App Host (dotnet.exe) and the CLR/Library. Also, it has a Common language runtime (CoreCLR) and .NET Core Class Library.

To run code, CoreCLR uses JIT compilation and garbage collection. There are three programming languages supported: C#, VB.NET, and F#. Additionally, there are different classes available in .NET Core, which is a smaller subset of the current .NET Framework. As for application workloads, .Net Core supports ASP.NET Core (MVC and API), console applications, and UWP (currently). 

Windows 10 devices run on UWP, which provides a common type system, APIs, and application model. Windows Forms applications, including Windows Forms Designer, have been supported since the .NET Core 3.0 SDK. 

.Net Core can be installed side-by-side, per machine or user, with different versions of Windows, Linux, Ubuntu, FreeBSD, Tizen, and Mac OSX. .NET Core resides in the folder C:/Program Files/dotnet/shared/Microsoft.NETCore.App. Several versions of Microsoft.NETCore.App coexist in the same folder.

A self-contained .exe file can also be created by including an app host in the resulting .exe file, which does not require an installed version of .NET Core. As a result, the deployment will take a longer time. 

Broader .NET Ecosystem

Xamarin, .NET Core, and .NET Framework are the three components of the broader .NET ecosystem. 

Xamarin is not discussed here, but can be explored in greater detail in our next articles. Make sure you use Xamarin when you want to build a mobile app (iOS, Android, or Windows Mobile app).

What is .NET Standard?

It is necessary to have base libraries in order to build a .NET Core, .NET Framework, or Xamarin application. The .NET Standard makes it possible for all three .NET implementations to use the same shared library:

.NET Framework and .NET Standard differ in technical terms, which leads to misinterpretation of .NET Core. All .NET implementations can access the .NET Standard library.

In .NET, APIs are available across all platforms, including mobile (iOS and Android), desktop (Linux, macOS, Windows), web, IoT, and many others where code written in .NET can be executed. The .NET Standard includes different API levels: higher levels work with newer versions, lower levels with older versions.

11 Key Differences in .Net Core Vs. .Net Framework

.NET Core and .NET Framework are distinguished by the following parameters:

.NET Core and .NET Framework differ in their compatibility, performance, security, and CLI tools. This article compares .NET Framework and .NET Core and makes in-depth analysis of both of them.

Under the .NET umbrella term, there are two Microsoft frameworks: .NET Framework and .NET Core. The latest version of the .NET Framework that was outdated and has been replaced with .NET Core. However, .NET Framework's popularity does not seem to be declining.

To summarize, the most commonly used software development frameworks for business applications are .NET and .NET Core. Developers continue to face a challenge when choosing between the two frameworks.

Introduction to the .Net Ecosystem

Developers can build server-side applications using Microsoft's free, open-source .NET platform. To build web, mobile, gaming, IoT, and desktop applications, you can use .NET and multiple languages (C#, F#, or Visual Basic). A .NET development framework offers two platforms for building server-side applications: .NET Framework, which has existed for a few years, and .NET Core, which continues to be improved and updated.

What is .NET Framework?

The .NET framework was last released by Microsoft as a proprietary offering with version 4.8. No new versions have been released since then other than bug fixes and reliability updates. First introduced by Microsoft, the .NET framework was built exclusively for Windows. Applications are developed and run using the .NET Framework. 

Performance is ideal with the .NET Framework. Despite being readily available, the source code does not support active contributions from the developer community. 

What is .NET Core?

.NET Framework has limitations that are addressed by .NET Core. .NET Core is a cross-platform framework that runs on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. As well as being open-source, it accepts contributions from developers.

.NET 5.0 was released in November 2020, dropping the "Core" branding. As of November 2022, .NET 7.0 is expected to be released, following .NET 6.0 in November 2021. However, for clarity, .NET Core will be differentiated from .NET Framework using the "Core" branding.

Codes and many components can be shared between the two frameworks when required. Before choosing a .NET development company for your next project, you should analyze the differences between .NET Core and .NET Framework.

The .NET Ecosystem: An Overview

A number of different components make up the .NET ecosystem in 2021. There are different types of runtimes, including:

  • .NET Framework (WPF, Windows Forms, and ASP.NET) - Windows-centric programming language.

  • .NET Core (ASP.NET Core, Universal Windows Platform - UWP) - This is a cross-platform framework that works alongside other versions of the software.

  • .NET 5 (ASP.NET Core, WPF, Windows Forms, Blazor) - A powerful platform that can help with applications across desktop, web, cloud, mobile, gaming, IoT, and artificial intelligence.

  • Mono for Xamarin (iOS, OS X, Android) - A cross-platform development environment.

As mentioned earlier, all of the above runtimes implement the .NET Standard, which is a specification for .NET APIs that are implemented for each runtime as a set of .NET APIs. It was done in order to enable code that had been created for a particular runtime to be executed by another runtime.

In order to compile and run code, all the runtimes make use of tools and infrastructure. There are several tools included in this category, such as languages (C#, Visual Basic), compilers (Roslyn), garbage collection, and build tools like MS Build or (Core) CLR.

What is .NET Standard?

According to the figure above, there are base libraries for building .NET Core, .NET Framework, and Xamarin applications. The .NET Standard allows all three .NET implementations to share a common library: .NET Core is often confused with .NET Framework and .NET Standard due to its technicality. 

Important note: All .NET implementations can use the .NET Standard library when needed.

.NET is a framework that defines APIs that are common to all .NET implementations, allowing .NET code to be written for mobile (iOS or Android), desktop (Linux, macOS, Windows), web, IoT, or wherever .NET is used in real-world applications. 

Versions of the .NET Standard exist: higher versions have more APIs, but can only be used on newer versions; lower versions have fewer APIs, but can be used anywhere.

Key Differences in .Net Core Vs. .Net Framework

The following parameters define the line between .NET Core and .NET Framework:

1. Compatibility

.NET Core's compatibility with Windows, Linux, and MacOS is what makes it the best in its league. As a result of a complete re-architecture of .NET, .NET Core was created to help businesses develop applications across all platforms.

A number of platforms besides Windows are supported by .NET Core, allowing enterprises to deploy .NET web development services on these platforms.

In addition to its performance, .NET Core is also open-source, making it one of the most popular frameworks for application development.

.NET Core is the foundation of all future .NET platforms.

A restrictive model is supported by the .NET Framework, which restricts websites, apps, and web services to the Windows operating system. If an organization plans to use the framework for a long time, the .NET Framework is recommended.

The source code for WPF, Windows Forms, and WinUI has been made available by Microsoft for organizations and developers.

2. Performance

Who wins the performance battle between .NET Core and .NET Framework when performance and scalability are top priorities?

Scalability and performance are demonstrated in the latest version of .NET Core. For high-performance system requirements, particularly where microservices are involved, Microsoft recommends ASP.NET Core. The performance of .NET Core compared to .NET Framework has been tested in several independent tests, with one test demonstrating a 7 to 13-fold improvement.

.NET Core's recompilation feature optimizes compiled code without requiring changes, making testing and deployment easier. A major focus has been on performance in the latest versions of .NET Core 6th version and the upcoming 7th version. 

3. Deployment Model

Its flexible deployment model is one of the most important features of .NET Core. Whenever the latest version of .NET Core is launched, one machine at a time can update, thereby uploading the updated files to new directories without affecting existing applications. With the new app bundling tools, .NET Core can also be deployed for apps that require more isolation.

A web application developed with the .NET Framework must be deployed only on the Internet Information Server. While .NET Framework can be hosted in more than one way, .NET Core's advantage lies in the fact that it can be hosted in more than one way.

BitsOrchestra and its Successful Journey with Net Solutions

BitsOrchestra is a team of outstanding developers. Our web application was built using C#, .NET Core, ASP.NET MVC, JavaScript, TypeScript, React Native, SQL, AWS, Azure CMS, Kentico, Umbraco, Orchardcore. 

We carefully listen to your business needs and easily turn our business objectives into a well thought out and executed development effort. We provided development-related services to global leaders in sports, events, technology, media, energy, transport, and education industries.

BitsOrchestra solves business problems by combining people, technologies, and data in a single workflow. Our solutions and tools empower companies to increase efficiency. Domains we work with are: e-commerce, education, finance, security, logistics, healthcare, military.

4. Focus on devices

Regardless of an application's business domain, today's highly advanced digitalized tech-friendly world requires apps that can reach different markets and end-users wrapped in the latest technology. In order to achieve this target, .NET Core continually updates to address new opportunities, such as gaming, mobile, IoT, and AI.

.NET 6 (the most recent version) provides an integrated platform for developing cloud, IoT, and mobile applications. In addition to ML.NET 1.4, Microsoft recently announced a Machine Learning framework for building data science apps on the web and on desktops. 

Blazor, a framework that leverages .NET to build single-page applications (SPAs), can also be part of the .NET ecosystem. Windows is the only operating system supported by the .NET Framework.

5. Source 

An open-source status of .NET Framework and .NET Core is another factor to consider. .NET Core is open-source, whereas the .NET Framework is proprietary, although some of its components are open-source.

6. Support for Microservices and REST Services

.NET Core does not support WCF (Windows Communication Foundation) services, so microservices must be implemented using a REST API.

The .NET Framework supports WCF and REST Services, but microservices cannot be created or deployed, so they are less scalable and performant.

7. Security

. Microsoft keeps the .NET Framework up-to-date with the latest security patches using the Windows security model.

.NET Core does not support Code Access Security, but it uses a more flexible and modern security model, making it more secure.

8. Packaging & Shipping

It is necessary to install the .NET Framework as a single package on Windows. The NuGet package manager, on the other hand, delivers .NET Core independent of the operating system.

9. CLI tools

.NET Core provides a lightweight cross-platform Common Language Infrastructure (CLI), with Visual Studio as an IDE option. Instead of being directly compiled to machine code, programs written for the .NET Framework are compiled into Common Intermediate Language code (CIL).


10. Mobile Development

.NET Framework is a Windows-only framework, which makes it very inflexible for today's applications due to its lack of support for mobile development. Although .NET Core does not support mobile apps as directly as Xamarin and other open-source platforms, it does share some compatibility with them.

11. Application Models

WinForms, ASP.NET, and WPF are among the components of the .NET Framework Application Model. However, ASP.NET and Windows universal apps are not supported by .NET Core, which focuses instead on the web, mobile, and Windows store.

.Net Core Vs .Net Framework Similarities

.NET Framework provides developers with the tools, languages, and libraries they need to develop Windows applications. With .NET Core, application developers can develop applications more easily across multiple platforms and with greater flexibility. 

They do, however, share the following:

  • The same base class library

  • A shared API, .NET Standard

  • Support for Windows and Windows Server

.Net Core Vs. .Net Framework - Which one should I choose?

As a result of the following summary, it will be easier to determine when each framework is most appropriate. There are a number of reasons why you should choose the .NET Framework if you meet the following requirements:

  • .NET Framework is already well known to you, or you have a team with .NET Framework expertise, and you don't have time to learn new technology.

  • It is preferable to have a stable environment over one that is continuously upgraded and changed.

  • Release schedules that are closer to each other.

  • You are looking for a way to extend the functionality of an existing .NET Framework application (rather than migrating it).

  • Build Windows client applications using Microsoft Windows Forms or Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation.

.NET Core is a better choice for you if you:

  • would like to target your applications for a wider range of operating systems;

  • need a system that is highly performant and/or scalable;

  • learning .NET for the first time;

  • prefer to use an open-source framework;

  • use Docker containers and/or microservices in your application;

  • there is a need to support side-by-side installation of the products;

.NET 7 – The Next Step on the Microsoft Roadmap

The next versions of .NET are expected to be released in November 2022 (7 version) and 2023 (8 version), with the latter expected to be a much larger release. 

Microsoft .NET (version 7) platform is designed with speed and performance in mind with re-architectures of how Kestrel processes HTTP/2 requests and compiles ahead-of-time (AOT) compilations to help developers build lighter, faster applications. As part of the latest preview of the .NET release, more APIs have also been added to the plan.

The choice of .NET for building applications is one of the most important decisions you will make. Initially, the default .NET Framework was the only option available to developers, but with the advent of .NET Core, the number of options has increased substantially. As far as the .NET Framework vs. .NET Core discussion is concerned, it remains alive and well because both options are great - as long as they are used correctly.

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Bits Orchestra team are outstanding developers‚Äč. They listen carefully to our business needs and easily turns our business objectives into a well thought out and executed development effort. Roman is very bright and definitely the most capable developer that has worked on our site. He is not only a Kentico expert but has successfully tackled other complicated development assignments demonstrating expertise in both front and backend development. Roman takes initiative to suggest enhancements that make site maintenance easier while improving the customer experience. The team is very responsive to our work requests and has great follow up. They have also worked very business partners and this has reflected positively on our company. Roman is a true partner for us and a tremendous asset to our organization. We will continue to work with them and would highly recommend Roman and his team for your development needs. He and his team will exceed your expectations!
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