Automatic Memory Management: From a programmer's perspective, this is probably the single biggest benefit of the .NET Framework. No, I'm not kidding. Every project I've worked on in my long career of DOS and Windows development has suffered at some point from memory management issues. Proper memory management is hard. Even very good programmers have difficulty with it. It's entirely too easy for a small mistake to cause a program to chew up memory and crash, sometimes bringing the operating system to a screeching halt in the process.
Programmers understand that they're responsible for releasing any memory that they allocate, but they're not very good at actually doing it. In addition, functions that allocate memory as a side effect abound in the Windows API and in the C runtime library. It's nearly impossible for a programmer to know all of the rules. Even when the programmer follows the rules, a small memory leak in a support library can cause big problems if called enough.
The .NET Framework solves the memory management problems by implementing a garbage collector that can keep track of allocated memory references and release the memory when it is no longer referenced. A large part of what makes this possible is the blazing speed of today's processors. When you're running a 2 GHz machine, it's easy to spare a few cycles for memory management. Not that the garbage collector takes a huge number of cycles--it's incredibly efficient.
The garbage collector isn't perfect and it doesn't solve the problem of mis-managing other scarce resources (file handles, for example), but it relieves programmers from having to worry about a huge source of bugs that trips almost everybody up in other programming environments.
On balance, automatic memory management is a huge win in almost every situation.