In what has to be the most obvious acquisition Microsoft has made in some time, today the Redmond company announced that they have signed an agreement to purchase Xamarin.

Xamarin creates tools to allow mobile developers to write code in C#, and have it run as native code on iOS, Android, and Windows. This lets the developer use Visual Studio and keep one set of source code but have it run on all of the mobile platforms.

Microsoft has been closely tied to Xamarin for some time, and have built in support for Xamarin into Visual Studio, Azure, Office 365, and their Enterprise Mobility Suite already, so really it seemed like this purchase was only a matter of when. Microsoft is acquiring the personnel in addition to the intellectual property of Xamarin and we should likely hear a lot more about their plans at Microsoft’s developer conference Build, which takes place the last week of March.

At Build 2015, Microsoft introduced “bridges” which would let developers on iOS and Android be able to port their apps to Windows 10’s Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app framework, with Microsoft demonstrating support for Objective-C code within Visual Studio and having it compile directly into native UWP code, with the iOS bridge codenamed project Islandwood. The Android solution was quite different, and project Astoria would have Windows 10 Mobile actually have an Android subsystem so that it could run apps written for Android. Although Astoria was released as a limited beta, it appears that this has been axed by Microsoft, although Islandwood is still moving forward and is currently in preview form on GitHub.

Xamarin is almost the exact opposite. Instead of trying to have developers port to Windows, instead they would be able to write in C# for Windows, and the Xamarin tools provide native APIs for iOS and Android and output code for those platforms, allowing a large amount of common code for apps developed for iOS, Android, and Windows.

We should learn more about this at Build though. The Xamarin tools should be a focal point during their announcements at the end of March.

Source: Scott Guthrie on the ASP.NET blog

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  • estarkey7 - Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - link

    Awesome! I have used this platform in the past, and this is a great move by team Microsoft!
  • DB_ERROR_TABLE_NAME - Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - link

    Great news. My company uses Xamarin. It's already a good tool, but I would love having better support. In the current environment, it's a no-brainer: why write the same app in two different languages when you can just do it once?
  • ddriver - Thursday, February 25, 2016 - link

    Yeah, microsoft will buy it and it will get better... right.

    They even ruin stuff they buy not to eliminate as a competitor.
  • DesktopMan - Thursday, February 25, 2016 - link

    Xamarin is supported in the Visual Studio 2015 installer, so no, this is not about getting rid of a competitor but to broaden their cross platform portfolio.
  • ddriver - Thursday, February 25, 2016 - link

    So, the dream of developer platform lockup is now dead at M$, the new hope is to shove lousy, slow running C# MS API programs into other platforms...

    Slow and inefficient C# core running against the horrendous MS APIs - hardly a winning combination. Thanks, I'll stick to Qt and C++, a much lesser, more mature and way more efficiently running evil...

    And no, it is about eliminating competition, they could easily port their APIs to other platforms without purchasing Xamarin, and it would cost less.
  • WaitingForNehalem - Thursday, February 25, 2016 - link

    you don't know what you're talking about
  • sseemaku - Thursday, February 25, 2016 - link

    The summary of what you have written is 'I don't know nothing about Xamarin'
  • YazX_ - Friday, February 26, 2016 - link

    i couldn't resist but to reply, as said by WaitingForNehalem , you don't know what you're talking about.
  • - Tuesday, March 1, 2016 - link

    +ddriver your correct that C# along with every other modern language out there (Java, Python, etc) is slightly slower at computing than C++, however the benefits to using a modern language is several orders of magnitude QUICKER development time. Not only this, but modern languages are so fast now-a-days that you don't need C++ for the majority of tasks. You are living in your comfortable, albeit slow (developmentally speaking) world of C++, for the rest of us this means using a high-level language that we can code the entire application in with less time used for development. My company just completed their mobile app for iOS and Android using Xamarin Forms and we had a shared code project that consisted of 14,000 lines of code, then in the platform specific projects (one for iOS and one for Android) we had 600-800 lines of code each. The total development time for this project was 3 months, we saved at least that much and our app is running as native code on both environments with all the performance benefits that come with it. Now with Microsoft behind it, this technology will see a higher adoption and using Xamarin Forms specifically, make it easy for developers to target the Universal Windows Platform, hopefully bringing more quality apps to the Windows 10 store. This is a win for Microsoft and for all C# developers out there that appreciate being able to complete a project in a timely manner, unlike the ridiculously slow development time it takes to write ANYTHING in C++.
  • aryonoco - Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - link

    So, about two decades after being rejected by Microsoft after a job interview, Miguel de Icaza is finally able to follow his dream and has a job at Microsoft! Amazing! :-p

    Though he has long left the Linux/Free Software world, I am amongst one of the many users who will always have a special place in my heart for de Icaza as the founder of GNOME.

    On a side note, what was Attachmate thinking when they laid off all the Mono people? That was probably the only part of Novell that was worth anything at that point. Such corporate shortsightedness.

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