Windows Apps Are About to Truly Become Universal

Cross-platform development for .NET has just been extended greatly thanks to Microsoft purchasing Xamarin. We are talking about having Windows apps on Android, iOS, and so much more.

There has been a lot of speculation with the future of Microsoft over the last two decades with “they will, they won’t”. Today, Microsoft finally announced that it is going to purchase Xamarin, the same company that brought native Android and iOS development into Visual Studios. This acquisition makes perfect sense for Microsoft, but the question remain of why now?

Building on the .NET and C#, Xamarin has provided Windows developers with an easier route to build applications outside the Windows ecosystem, without alienating any of the users. Microsoft has been struggling to deliver cross-platform development tooling on its own. They have been relying on hybrid HTML5 applications for Android and iOS, making it hard to deliver the user experiences that Android and iOS offer their users. Xamarin fills this gap amazingly for Microsoft.

Bringing these two organizations together adds the cross-platform UI tooling to Microsoft’s developer platform, along with the required compilers needed to deliver native code to mobile devices. By incorporating Xamarin into the official .NET development tools, Microsoft could actually make the Universal Windows Platform truly universal.

Microsoft’s original strategy was about bringing the non-Windows applications to Windows. This was an approach that left many developers feeling quite abandoned. By adding Xamarin’s tools to its developer platform will be giving Microsoft the missing piece in its cross-platform strategy, helping Windows developers build cross-platform apps that will easily deliver native user experiences on Mac OS X, iOS, and Android, as well as the various versions of Windows 10. These apps could be able to be extended to the smartwatch platforms that are offered by Google and Apple.

Xamarin aimed to take advantage of bleeding edge tools and development of the .NET compiler technologies. Their currently working on their newest version of it’s development tools for users. According to their CTO Miguel De Lcaza, the new versions of their tools will be including scratchpad features very similar to Xcode’s Swift playground. This will be replacing what was known as Mono with Microsoft’s Roslyn. Bringing such new features like these to Visual Studios should help Microsoft bring over non-Windows developers to their platform. It also should speed up the the process to deliver Windows Apps to other OSes and platforms. The developers would only need a single source code, with separate UI modules for each device they are wanting to target.

Other changes with Xamarin have included them adding Xamarin Forms, a single set of UI controls that map to native functionality. Developers using Xamarin Forms can easily develop an application GUI and have it render on targeted devices. Such as using iOS features on iPhone and iPad and Android features on Android phones and tablets.

Just adding the ability of having cross-platform tools to its development platform makes a lot of sense for Microsoft, with a great future ahead. While opening up to the Android and iOS worlds. These goals and major changes are helping to deliver the endpoints that Satya Nadella’s cloud-first, mobile-first world needs. The acquisition should close before Microsoft’s 2016 Build Developer Event at the end of March.

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Categories: Programming

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