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".NET Framework" is a special application virtual machine framework. With it, programs compiled to .NET can run in this virtual machine. This concept is similar to Java runtime where JAR files run on any system with Java runtime. With .NET Framework, C#, VB.NET, J#, and other languages can be compiled to a platform-neutral language called Common Intermediate Language (CIL). A part of .NET Framework called Common Language Runtime (CLR) will then compile this code to machine-code that the system can execute. In other words, .NET Framework is a Just-in-time compiler (JIT).
.NET Framework is made by Microsoft and is intended for Windows. However, various implementations exist. For instance, Mono is an open-source alternative that works on Linux, Windows, BSD, OS X, and other systems.
There are many pieces of software that make up .NET Framework. The class library is called Framework Class Library (FCL). The virtual-machine portion is called the Common Language Runtime (CLR). Common Intermediate Language (CIL) refers to the code that the CLR compiles into machine-code. Native Image Generator (NGEN) is a ahead-of-time compiler for CIL. This means CIL code can be compiled on a machine to create an executable that does not need to be compiled by the CLR. This saves time since the code is not compiled every time it is run.
Developers have a few IDEs that can be used when writing code for .NET Framework. Visual Studio ( https://www.visualstudio.com/ ) is a proprietary IDE made by Microsoft for Windows only. MonoDevelop ( http://monodevelop.com/ ) is a free open-source alternative that works on Linux, Windows, and OS X. MonoDevelop also has a GTK# GUI designer called Stetic. SharpDevelop ( http://www.icsharpcode.net/OpenSource/SD/Default.aspx ) is another open-source IDE, but it only works on Windows.