How Does a C# Application Run?

An important point is that C# is a “managed” language, meaning that it requires the .NET Common Language Runtime (CLR) to execute. Essentially, as an application that is written in C# executes, the CLR is managing memory, performing garbage collection, handling exceptions, and providing many more services that you, as a developer, don’t have to write code for.

The C# compiler produces Intermediate Language (IL) , rather than machine language, and the CLR understands IL. When the CLR sees the IL, it Just-In-Time (JIT) compiles it, method by method, into compiled machine code in memory and executes it. As mentiond previously, the CLR manages the code as it executes.

Because C# requires the CLR, you must have the CLR installed on your system. All new Windows operating systems ship with a version of the CLR and it is available via Windows Update for older systems.

The CLR is part of the .NET, so if you see updates for the .NET Framework Runtime, it contains the CLR and .NET Framework Class Library (FCL). It follows that if you copy your C# application to another machine, then that machine must have the CLR installed too.

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