Bootstrapping the Runtime

Previously you saw that executable assemblies are built as EXE files, which as we all know are loaded by the operating system to run them in a separate process. In the pre-.NET world, executable files simply contained native machine instructions that could be understood directly by the processor. Because managed code assemblies require runtime services to execute, a natural question is how the .NET runtime gets loaded when the operating system encounters a managed executable.

For the operating system’s loader to recognize the executable file as a valid one, it needs to have a structure that is defined in the PE/COFF file format, which stands for Portable Executable, Common Object File Format. This file format describes ...

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