Many programs require that you have the correct version of the .NET Framework installed before they’ll work. And so it’s important to understand which versions of .NET are installed on a system before you start installing new software.
Microsoft haven’t provided any straightforward way of finding this out, unfortunately, but that doesn’t have to be a problem: the .NET Version Detector provides everything you need.
The program is convenient to use, coming in the form of a single, portable executable. It’s small at only 774KB, and is a native application, so doesn’t require .NET itself.
The Version Detector’s interface is a little confusing, though, mostly because it tries to display too much information all at once. We were expecting a simple list box with one line per .NET version installed; instead there are panels, and buttons, and a list, and a text box, and menus…
But once you understand what’s happening this isn’t really a problem. Check the panels to the left, and any .NET versions displayed in white text are installed; those with greyed out text aren’t. Or you can scroll down the text box at the bottom of the program for a simple list.
And those buttons over on the left actually represent download links; the green should grab a copy of the relevant framework version, while the purple ought to download the appropriate software development kit, if you need it.
We say “should” download, because the links don’t always work. We clicked the download button for .NET 4.5, for instance, and just got a “not found” error at the Microsoft site: oops.
Microsoft have presumably just moved the file, though. And the links themselves are server-based, so this isn’t an issue with the program itself; as soon as the author notices the problem and updates things, all will be well, without you having to download anything further.
The .NET Version Detector has a few issues, then, in particular its overly cluttered interface. But its small size, portability and (mostly working) .NET download links mean the program still provides a convenient way to understand and update your PC’s .NET configuration.