Find out which Microsoft .Net Framework version a software requires

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 17, 2014
Updated • Aug 1, 2018
Tutorials, Windows tips

The Microsoft .Net Framework is a highly controversial software framework that makes available a large library of classes to developers which they can make use of when they code applications. The framework has been criticized for performance issues, as well as for not being cross-platform.

What's probably most confusing to end users is that there are so many .Net Framework versions out there that can be installed on the computer at the same time.

All modern versions of the Windows operating system ship with at least one version of the Microsoft .Net Framework. Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system includes the Net Framework 4.6, Windows 8.1, ships with .net Framework 4.5.1, while Windows 7 with the .net Framework 3.5.

Microsoft did not distribute the framework with Windows XP or previous versions of the Windows operating system.

You can either check the Windows Registry directly to find out which versions of the .net Framework are installed on your system, or use a handy program like the .Net Version Detector instead.

All you need to do is download the program to your system, extract the archive, and run it afterwards. An installation is not required.


The program displays all versions of the Microsoft .Net Framework that are currently supported on the system. White text indicates that the version is installed, while gray that it is not installed. Service packs are also highlighted by the application.

Finding out which .Net version a program depends on

It can sometimes be important to find out which .Net Framework version a program requires, or if a program requires .Net at all.

If you do not like .Net, then this is a way to make sure that you do not run the software on your system.

As a tech writer, I need to make sure that my readers know which .Net version a program requires. While that is often listed on the homepage of the software, it sometimes is not.

It is often difficult to find out which .NET Framework version a program requires.

Some users simply run the program to start or install it, but that may lead to some undesirable things; programs may refuse to run or you may notice that the application tries to fire off the installation of a version of the .NET Framework that is not installed on the system.

It is therefore important to know about the requirements before you start the application for the first time if you want to minimize the likelihood of issues.

If you research methods to display the required .NET Framework version of a program you will encounter lots of suggestions. Some, like opening the program in a Notepad application and searching for Framework, don't work all the time.

One of the better reliable options is to use the free program dotPeek. Intended for developers and available as a standalone program for Windows and as part of JetBrains ReSharper Ultimate, it reveals the Net Framework version when you load a NET application using the program.

find out required net version

Just check the Net Framework version listed after the listed modules to find out the requirement.

Option Process Explorer

You need the excellent Process Explorer for that. Run the application, then the .Net application. Locate it in Process Explorer, and double-click on it.

Here you need to switch to .Net Assemblies to find the required .Net Framework version listed there.


In this case, it requires the Microsoft .Net Framework 4.0.

This method won't help you if you do not have the .Net Framework installed on your PC, as you cannot run the software in question.

Running it may however display a notification or maybe even an installation prompt to install the required .Net Framework version on the system.

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Find out which Microsoft .Net Framework version a software requires
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Find out which Microsoft .Net Framework version a software requires
It can sometimes be important to find out which .Net Framework version a program requires, or if a program requires .Net at all.
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  1. KonBoy said on September 16, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    I’m with C0lumbo. With all the added disk space and memory of the newer PCs, many ‘programmers’ are getting sloppy. The big boys, like Google & MS tho are stealing our RAM, hard drive space and bandwidth to store and access their databases of our private information which are housed on our equipment.

    How many times have companies had to issue emergency patches or advisories to remove an existing patch because the copyright protection features were flawed. I wonder how many bugs are delivered through copy protection holes.

  2. c0lumbus said on April 23, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    Nice article. Sadly no news about investigating, which programm requires which framework.

    I’ve programmed with Assembler and C about 20 Years ago.
    Nowdays every one just plays “LEGO” with .net frameworks no longer writes real code. Many programmers haven’t an simple idea about memory allocation, overflows … .
    OK development has become easier with .net, but if Microsoft stops to continue an .net runtime 2, 3, … xxx the associated programm wil die, too.

    Happy new IT world …

    … now continue, searching – which buggy .net is slowing down my SRV2003 apps ….

    Cheers, Chris

  3. pregunton said on February 15, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    update for .NET 4.6 and core 1.0 ?

  4. Ian said on January 17, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    To call .NET a controversial Framework shows your lack of understanding of this topic. It is the most widely used framework in the U.S. for business applications and provides better and more modern capabilities than it’s counterparts such as Java. In fact, anyone who has developed with both Java and C#.NET knows how similar they are. But C# having more capabilities and modern features that people complain about with Java. You said that it is not possible to run things cross platform, this is also incorrect, it can be used on other platforms with the assistance of things like Mono and some other mobile technologies that allow for .NET development for Apple and Android devices. Get your facts straight and don’t just go off of what you like and don’t like.

    Ian Kelly
    Senior Software Engineer

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