Scott Hanselman

How many PCs in the world have the .NET Framework installed?

January 20, 2010 Comment on this post [43] Posted in ASP.NET | Learning .NET | Microsoft | Win7 | Windows Client | WPF
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image I did a second .NET Framework features informal poll recently, and as with all .NET related polls the question comes up: How many PCs have the .NET Framework on it?

If you're a company that is considering creating a client application using .NET (not Silverlight, but the .NET Framework) you'd probably like to know if your end-user needs to install something extra to use your app.

So I started asking questions. We've said things here and there about the pervasiveness of the .NET Framework but I wanted to get the final word (at the time of this writing) and put it somewhere easy to fine.

After some digging, here's what I've got:

  • Well over 90% of the PCs in the world have some version of the .NET Framework installed.
  • Over 65% of Windows PCs in the world have .NET 3.5 SP1 installed.

This is a lot higher than I thought, and it's pretty cool.

The .NET Framework is smaller than you'd think (that's why I wrote SmallestDotNet). The very small .NET 4 Client Profile makes it easier (both speed and download size) to put .NET on a machine.

I think these numbers will help folks who might be considering using .NET for a client application.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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January 20, 2010 10:36
Been looking for this for years now, esp when 3.0 was fairly new. The .net penetration is very important information that should be updated somewhere frequently.
January 20, 2010 11:11
I'm getting lots of questions asking if this is a poll of my readers.

Just to make sure it's clear, this isn't the results from a poll. These is not limited to my readers, these are statistics from telemetry (Windows Update, etc) reporting as given to me by the bosses.
January 20, 2010 11:25
Glad to know that :)
January 20, 2010 11:52
i've been wondering the same thing but now im actually surprised i thought these number would be lower, well i hop with .net 4.0 these result will get even higher
January 20, 2010 12:22
This is impressive can you point to the statistics source, or how you could get these numbers, this will come very handy :)
January 20, 2010 12:50
Thanks for that, I was hoping for a slightly higher number on the 3.5SP1 front, but it's still a good number.
January 20, 2010 12:50
Can you please clarify what is a "PC"? I consider my iPhone a PC, but all may not agree with me.
January 20, 2010 13:03
PC's are machines running Windows for the purpose of these stats and this post. ;)
January 20, 2010 14:01
That was really astonishing. I was expecting 25-30%. This is really good. Microsoft is getting more and more popular and that really charming coz I m one of the greatest fan of Microsoft and you too Scott :)
January 20, 2010 14:10
That's really nice, 65% is a good number to tell my boss, when I select which features to use in our client tools, I can start targeting 3.5 without too many worries.

Btw, is there a place where these statistics are updated and publicly visible (like the browsers statistics at w3schools)?
January 20, 2010 15:17
Talk about bias? Any PC that is

(a) not running windows
(b) not online
(c) not using windows update

Is automatically excluded. I bet, if you ran an analysis, less than 5% would appear to be running OSX

January 20, 2010 16:51
That's great info, Scott. A lot of independent desktop developers target the 2.0 framework because of the perception that the penetration is higher. If you have access to the 2.0 stats, it would be interesting to see them.
January 20, 2010 16:53
65% would be great news but I'm a bit skeptical. How did you get to this statistic? How big was your marketing poll and wasn't the group leaning to have a slightly higher computer IQ - i.e. more informed about what is happening in the PC world.
January 20, 2010 17:51
Robert, he stated that this was not from a marketing poll or any kind of survey, but rather from analytics run by Microsoft as part of the Windows Update process.
January 20, 2010 18:30
Would love to know the number that have at least 2.0 since that's the critical point of binary incompatibility coupled with real pain try to target below (mainly in terms of loss of generics)...

January 20, 2010 19:45
Interesting information! These are thought-provoking statistics. I'm particularly interested in the Silverlight runtime which is rapidly gaining popularity and installed on a significant proportion of computers now -- and of course not just PCs. This has exciting implications for .NET developers.
January 20, 2010 20:04
Great Statistics...
January 20, 2010 20:19
Good figures to know and higher than I expected although I guess the real numbers are a little lower there are PC's hiding in corners with no internet connection or windows updates disabled.

With Windows 7 obviously things can only get better for us although then we will want to be deploying with .NET 4 :-)

p.s. What happens if you use the .NET Client Profile and a program happens to call for instance System.Web?? I assume this would not be in the client profile although I have a valid reason involving code reuse to have it included in one of my projects. Is it a friendly error or an unexplained .NET crash?
January 20, 2010 21:15
So, if the stats come from Windows Update, then what the numbers *really* mean is that 90% of all internet-connected Windows machines which are also configured to use Windows Update (to include having firewall ports open for same) have some version of the .NET framework installed.

That doesn't give any indication of the *actual* worldwide market share of .NET (unless Unix, Linux, Mac OS X, etc, start using windows update, of course... )
January 20, 2010 21:43
What about .NET 4.0? When the final version is released, I know people like you and me are going to start installing it on their machines, but developers that target the latest version are going to have to have average users install it. So, the problem of having users install .NET Framework will continue until Windows 7 SP1 comes out. Even then not all computers are going to upgrade to SP1 right away, so I think we should still worry about having users update their .NET version.
January 20, 2010 21:53

You are probably missing the point. If these numbers are being shown in an attempt to say "Hey, don't worry about designing a Client App in .NET" they do the job just fine.

The reason being is you have to think of distribution of said Application. If you are distributing it over the internet:

- The percentage of users on PCs who don't use a Windows OS for their desktop is incredibly small...even the most staunch Linux supporter will conceed this point (your point A, plus they could run Mono making it moot anyways).
- You don't care about people who aren't online (point B).
- If someone is online and not using Windows Update, chances are they're using a pirated copy of the OS, which makes them an unlikely candidate to purchase your Winforms/WPF app anyways (point C).

On the other hand, if you distribute via CD or DvD, you can just include the.NET runtime installer.

What I'd like to see is US/Canadian numbers, are those available?


January 20, 2010 22:38
If Microsoft wants to please us, developers, they should push .NET as a mandatory install via Windows Update.
January 20, 2010 23:03
This data is provided by NetApps to Microsoft and is not something we release on a regular basis (same folks who do the browser statistics) and it is not poll or survey based data. However, we thought it was intersting to share a point in time view since we thought transparency and knowledge was a good thing. Any methdology is going to be imperfect, but the market in general is comfortable with the way NetApps measures browser share so we have piggy backed on the same stuff. It is a view of *all* internet connected devices (so it does include things like Macs and iPhones in the denominator, but those #'s don't materially impact the outcomes (maybe we'd be 1-2% higher if we modulo'd that out).

Fundamentally we are interrogating internet traffic around the globe (LOTS OF IT) so it is not biased or skewed to "high IQ users" but is a reasonable view of the broad internet connected PC population.

Hope this helps provide some color.

Brian Goldfarb
Director, Developer Platforms and UX
Microsoft Corporation
January 20, 2010 23:40
Brian, thanks for that info. Your description of the data collection is much different than Scott's (who seemed to indicate it was based on data gathered by MS during Windows Update sessions.) If you're really getting it from NetApps then it lends a great deal more credibility to the numbers.

In that case, I'd say 65% is a pretty amazing (and encouraging) stat!
January 20, 2010 23:55
I'll follow up with Brian and make sure which numbers came from where as I collected these from a couple of groups. Brian knows these numbers better than I, so I defer to him.
January 21, 2010 2:05
@timacheson, Check out for Silverlight adoption. I can't vouch for the numbers there but last time I checked it was consistent with my own sites.

Scott, that just gave me an idea: it would be cool to see a site for .NET installs. I know you can get that info from the useragent so it ought to be reasonably easy to collect and analyze. The hard part would be getting participation from some major sites.
January 21, 2010 2:12
That is a very interesting stat. We have about 75% of our customers report to us that they still only target .Net 2.0 because they don't see the penetration of .Net 3.5 (with or without the SP1). It is one of the key reasons we have stuck with a .Net 2 only dependency.

I wonder how many developers are targeting .Net 2 vs .Net 3.5 sp1... From my (limited) perspective I think the solid nature of .Net 2 as a stable base for everything has led a lot of companies to not allowing their developers to move past that point. Companies view .Net 2 as a solid safe bet, but still view .Net 3.5 as an addon. The fact that .Net 3.5 and .Net 3.5 SP1 have HUGE amounts of differences in terms of features adds a lot of confusion around the adoption I think.

January 21, 2010 3:31
Thanks Scott! You just (finally) pulled the trigger on our long awaited move from 2.0 to 3.5.

January 21, 2010 3:44
Does anyone know how this compares to JVM installs? Searches didn't yieled any useful info in this area.
January 21, 2010 4:04
Scott Prugh - Tim above pointed to that has JVM stats as well.

.NET 4 Client Profile will be in Windows Update as well. Rabi Satter said this on his blog (he works for Microsoft in the Deployment Team):

.NET 4 will be released on Windows Update (WU). In addition, it will show up in Windows Server Update Service (WSUS). Specifically .NET Framework 4 Client Profile will be released as a recommended update on Vista and Windows 7. A recommended update will be automatically installed depending on the Automatic Update settings. Client Profile will also be released as an optional update for XP. With XP a user will have to manually run WU and select the .NET Framework 4 Client Profile. Windows 2003, Windows 2008 and Windows 2008 R2 will see .NET Framework 4 as an optional update.

So that means that .NET 4 *will* for most machines connected to WU, be automatically installed.
January 21, 2010 12:35
This Statistic does work... i think you have done a brilliant job by giving this information....
January 21, 2010 13:11

Brian convincingly suggests that the numbers are not skewed.

I'm personally at a loss how traffic analysis can identify PC's (in order to count individual ones, i.e.).
In that vein I'm at a loss how to intepret some of these figures. E.g. adding the browser market shares for IE _and_ Firefox (you see, I'm being liberal there, just to accommodate) you'd get at 62.69 + 24.61 = 87.3%. Citing 90%+ .NET adoption is than quite a surprise IMHO

But then again... NetApps statistics on OS trends do not match my view of things, so its probably my view that needs adjusting. Personally, I'd keep very critical of this kind of statistic as (a) it is not clear how NetApps can even identify PC's* (b) it is not what I see in my personal or work environments. Granted, I'll revoke my <cynism/> until I have my own counts (like: never).


* At best it comes down to 'best effort' where, just like in school, the loudmouths win (the PC's that generate the most traffic to be analysed, i.e.)
January 21, 2010 15:00
This is slightly more than what I expected for 3.5. but that's good to know that the environment I am coding for is used by that portion of people.
January 21, 2010 23:34
Any idea on how many Silverlight 3 installations?

January 22, 2010 3:03
Update: Brian is right, these stat are from a third-party, NetApps. WU plays a part though (they have stats, although these aren't theirs) as the rapid increase in the number of installs of the latest version of the .NET Framework reflects both the speed with which WU has been able to update those PCs with .NET 2.0 and above to .NET 3.5 SP1, as well showing the adoption of Vista and Windows 7, which ship with .NET 3.0 and .NET 3.5 SP1 respectively.
January 24, 2010 13:02
Very impressive .
January 26, 2010 12:22
The rate is higher than my expected, I'm wonder about this
January 27, 2010 13:09
Thanx for such an useful information.


Preeti Sharma
Business Development Officer
Ampere Software Private Limited
Contact: +1-800-315-0433
February 02, 2010 17:14
This is great if your app is going on a normal home PC. However the sort of corporations that lock down their PCs tend to also block internet access from most of them. Just having one key user in a cooperation not able to access your system due to not having the .NET framework (until the next”refresh” that is booked for a few years time) is enough to lose a sale.

So just requiring IE6 or above on the client is still the safe (but rather painful) option.
February 15, 2010 5:00
Does the 65% installed base for .net 3.5 apply to the .net 3.5 SP1 client profile or the full .net 3.5 SP1 redist or any version of .net 3.5 SP1?

April 13, 2010 13:34
Hi Scott,

very helpful info.
May 23, 2010 0:25
What is a good .net bootstrapper to bundle with an app? (not the default VS bootstrapper which upon first screen shows .net license agreement)
May 26, 2010 17:04
You can get .net version usage stats here:

Comments are closed.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.