Microsoft is all about .NET5+ (.NET 5 to .NET 8). But our trusty old .NET Framework isn’t going anywhere. It’s indefinitely supported. So even with all the buzz around .NET5+ releases, there are loads of good reasons to stay on .NET Framework for now, and there’s no rush to migrate just yet.
In this article, I’ll talk about what you can expect from staying on .NET Framework and give some tips on how to stay on .NET Framework basically forever. At least before you eventually migrate to .NET5+.
Can I stay on .NET Framework?
Basically yes, but we need to look at Microsoft’s .NET support policies and version life-cycles to get a better understanding of what that means.
.NET Framework has been around for a while, and at present has various versions, with various degrees of support. Here’s a run down of it’s support:
|.NET Version||End of Support Date||Supported?|
|.NET Framework 1.0 – 4.6.1||April 26. 2022||✘ Out of Support|
|.NET Framework 3.5||January 9,2029||🆗 Supported for now|
|.NET Framework 4.6.2||January 12, 2027||🆗 Supported for now|
|.NET Framework 4.7 – 4.72||2032+ (approx.)||✅ Supported|
|.NET Framework 4.8||Indefinite||✅ Supported|
|.NET Framework 4.8.1||Indefinite||✅ Supported|
What it means if you’re not supported.
If a version has reached it’s out of support date, this means that Microsoft no longer provides fixes, updates, or online technical assistance. The key issues to this are:
- Security Risks: Without ongoing security updates, applications become more vulnerable.
- Compatibility Concerns: Versions may not work seamlessly with newer operating systems, hardware, and third-party software.
- No Technical Assistance: Microsoft will not offer official technical support for issues related to the out of support version.
- New Features: New features and enhancements introduced in later versions of the framework won’t be available.
- Performance and Stability: Lack of updates can lead to performance degradation and stability issues over time.
Having said that, if you aren’t experiencing any instability or maintenance issues with your current system, even an unsupported version can continue to run smoothly, as long as you keep the above in mind.
What else do I need to consider?
The decision you make shouldn’t be limited to only the support life cycle:
- Cross-Platform Compatibility: .NET Framework is largely limited to Windows environments, whereas .NET5+ has expanded its reach to run on Windows, macOS, and various Linux distributions.
- New Features: .NET Framework applications will not benefit from the new features and functionality introduced in the versions of .NET5+ released since .NET 5.
- Library Support: Since .NET Framework has been around longer, there might be specialized libraries that are only available for it. However as development focus shifts towards .NET5+, current libraries an application uses may become depreciated in .NET Framework.
How to stay on .NET Framework indefinitely
With the indefinite support .NET Framework 4.8 and above are provided, migrating to .NET5+ may not be the best idea right now. Especially if:
- It’s complex to migrate, requiring extensive time and effort.
- You have plans to decommission your applications in the coming years.
Despite this, it’s highly recommended that you be updated with the latest version of .NET Framework to take advantage of it’s currently indefinite support. Updating is relatively simple, and way less intensive than migrating.
If you are on versions below .NET Framework 4.8 you should upgrade to at least 4.8 if you want to be on a supported version.
- .NET Framework versions 4.0 – 4.6.1 are already unsupported.
- .NET Framework versions 4.6.2 – 4.7 will be out of support in the near future
Long-term Concerns for .NET Framework
Microsoft will continue to provide support for .NET Framework 4.8 indefinitely. However, there still may be long-term concerns regarding an application. Specifically, you need to consider:
- Dependencies: Which libraries do your applications use? Are these internal or third party? As time goes on, the latter especially will be updated and developed for .NET5+, which means they may be depreciated on your current .NET Framework.
- New Components/Features: Do your applications require further development? Implementing new features will be harder down the road due to lack of updates and a diminishing talent pool as expertise shifts to .NET5+ development.
You still have time to stay on .NET Framework due to the ongoing support, however, it is worth making a long-term plan in case you face challenges down the road.
Staying on .NET Framework is possible.
You can continue on your current .NET Framework and not have to worry about upgrading or migrating for at least the next decade or two. However, from this article hopefully you will have a better understanding of these takeaways:
- If your system is on a .NET version older than 4.8, you might want to consider upgrading to 4.8 to remain supported.
- If your system is on .NET Framework version 4.8 or higher, there is no immediate urgency to migrate, however assess your applications for long term planning.
- It’s important to remember that you may need to migrate eventually for any reasons covered in this article, so it’s important to be prepared and familiarize with migration ahead of time.
Migrating can be a challenge, and is more than just an upgrade. To plan for your migration sign up for our .NET 8 Migration guide today!