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The Key Differences between .NET Core and .NET Framework

Microsoft’s .NET is a well-known name among enterprises and developers, and since it is Microsoft, there’s no questioning its efficiency and productivity. However, the proliferation of multiple development platforms and frameworks from one single language or framework has led to ambiguity, especially among the non-technical masses.

Let’s take React.JS and React Native for example. Both frameworks are the by-products of the same language, i.e. JavaScript, but many often get confused between the two. Microsoft’s .NET Framework and .NET Core often face the same problem. Each development platform comes with its own set of features and shares certain similarities with each other. Yet, when it comes to software development, both platforms have significant differences to count for.

So we have tried to straighten things out a bit by pointing out the key differences between .NET Framework and .NET core and helping users develop their understanding of the two.

What are .NET Framework and .NET Core?

The first and most obvious thing to do is to have basic information about the two platforms. So .NET Framework is a software development framework that is a product of Microsoft (both owned and developed by it). It works primarily on Microsoft Windows and acts as a virtual machine that is used for the compilation and execution of programs written in languages like Visual Studio .NET and C#.

It can be used for the development of web-based apps, native Windows apps, and form-based apps. A crucial feature of the .NET Framework is that it supports over 60 different languages and out of those 60, 11 have been developed by Microsoft.

.NET Core on the other hand is a general-purpose, cross-platform development platform that is known for the creation of modern software including cloud-based apps built across Windows, macOS, and Linux. .NET Core offers full support for F# and C# along with VB.NET. It performs well and is considered ideal because it supports multiple environments.

Now let’s have a look at the fundamental differences between the two platforms

Software Ownership

Though both .NET Core and .NET Framework are products of Microsoft, the software license is different. While the former is open-source, the latter is proprietary software with only some components of the framework available as open-source.

Application Development

The very first difference between the two is the development of different application models. .NET Framework is preferred by developers for the creation of desktop and web apps. It also provides support for WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) apps. .NET Core on the other hand does not support the development of desktop applications and is more focused on web and mobile app development.

Another contrasting feature in this aspect is the support for Android app development. Since .NET Core is open-source, hence it is compatible with Xamarin, the mobile app development platform, via .NET Standard Library. Xamarin’s tools are used by developers for the configuration of mobile apps for the specific OS including Windows mobile. The .NET Framework on the other hand does not offer any software or framework for mobile app development.

Support for Services

With .NET Core, developers can implement micro-services but they don’t have the support for WCF (Windows Communication Foundation) services and will need to create REST APIs. .NET Framework on the other hand does not provide a facility for the creation and implementation of the micro-services, although it does support REST API services and serves as an excellent choice for WCF services.


Compared to .NET Framework, .NET Core has a flexible, and hassle-free deployment model as its updated version automatically gets initiated in the existing applications within new folders and on a single machine at a time. Hence, it does not affect the performance of existing apps. But updates of the .NET Framework first get deployed on the Internet Information Server. From there, a user has to update the framework manually.


Given that .NET Framework is (mostly) a proprietary framework, it is more efficient in terms of security. It has its mechanism known as Code Access Security, which comes along with the features of validation and verification. This feature is not available for .NET Core.

CLI Tools

As compared to .NET Framework, Core offers cross-platform and lightweight CLI tools and code editors. One of the advantages of working with .NET Core is that it gives the option to switch to an IDE (like Visual Studio). But the .NET framework is heavy for the CLI tools and the programs written for it do not get directly compiled into machine code but are rather compiled into CIL (Common Intermediate Language) code.

A Quick Overview

Apart from their support for services and platforms, we can see that .NET Core and .NET Framework differ in some of the core functionalities. So let’s have a glance at their most basic differences.

Features .NET Core .NET Framework
Cross-platform support An open-source platform that is compatible with different OS including Windows, Linux, and macOS A proprietary development framework that mainly supports Windows operating system
System App Development Used mainly for web and mobile app development for windows mobile and windows store. Supports Android app development Highly preferred for Windows desktop app and web app development, but does not support mobile app development
Security Lacks strong security because of its open-source license offers Offers strong security with features like Code Access Security for verification and validation
Micro-services and REST API Supports the creation of micro-services and the implementation of REST API service Does not support micro-services but supports the creation and implementation of REST APIs
Deployment Easy and flexible as the deployment of updates does not affect existing applications Updates gets deployed on the Internet Information Server only
CLI Tools Easy, light-weight CLI tools and editors .NET Framework is heavier for CLI tools


Both .NET Framework and .NET Core development services are pretty good tools for creating robust applications, but the decision of using one depends on the type of software or application to be built. Being an open-source gives an upper hand to .NET Core, but when it comes to meeting industry standards, .NET Framework is definitive since the most common systems used by offices run on Windows.

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Written By

Albert Smith is Digital Marketing Manager at Hidden Brains, a leading software development company specializing in mobile & web app development services. He provides innovative ways to help tech companies, startups and large enterprises build their brand.

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