I love C#, probably my favourite general purpose programming language at the end of the day. In the early days however, C# was heavily tied to Microsoft’s ecosystem. Then a little company named Ximian created a Mono, an open source implementation of C#. At first the relationship between Microsoft and Ximian (and Microsoft and Open source in general… ) was not… great.
Since then, a ton has happened… Microsoft became more open source friendly. Ximian was acquired by Novell, then eventually spun off as an independent known as Xamarin and Mono has gone on to become the technology powering basically every single C# powered non-Microsoft title, including being the runtime behind the popular Unity game engine. For years I’ve assumed Microsoft would buy Xamarin, especially as their relationships became cosier and cosier. Heck I last mentioned an MSFT buyout when Xamarin bought RoboVM. It just made so much sense to happen…
And it finally did! From Scott Gu’s blog announcement:
As the role of mobile devices in people’s lives expands even further, mobile app developers have become a driving force for software innovation. At Microsoft, we are working to enable even greater developer innovation by providing the best experiences to all developers, on any device, with powerful tools, an open platform and a global cloud.
As part of this commitment I am pleased to announce today that Microsoft has signed an agreement to acquire Xamarin, a leading platform provider for mobile app development.
In conjunction with Visual Studio, Xamarin provides a rich mobile development offering that enables developers to build mobile apps using C# and deliver fully native mobile app experiences to all major devices – including iOS, Android, and Windows. Xamarin’s approach enables developers to take advantage of the productivity and power of .NET to build mobile apps, and to use C# to write to the full set of native APIs and mobile capabilities provided by each device platform. This enables developers to easily share common app code across their iOS, Android and Windows apps while still delivering fully native experiences for each of the platforms. Xamarin’s unique solution has fueled amazing growth for more than four years.
Xamarin has more than 15,000 customers in 120 countries, including more than one hundred Fortune 500 companies – and more than 1.3 million unique developers have taken advantage of their offering. Top enterprises such as Alaska Airlines, Coca-Cola Bottling, Thermo Fisher, Honeywell and JetBlue use Xamarin, as do gaming companies like SuperGiant Games and Gummy Drop. Through Xamarin Test Cloud, all types of mobile developers—C#, Objective-C, Java and hybrid app builders —can also test and improve the quality of apps using thousands of cloud-hosted phones and devices. Xamarin was recently named one of the top startups that help run the Internet.
Microsoft has had a longstanding partnership with Xamarin, and have jointly built Xamarin integration into Visual Studio, Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and our Enterprise Mobility Suite to provide developers with an end-to-end workflow for native, secure apps across platforms. We have also worked closely together to offer the training, tools, services and workflows developers need to succeed.
With today’s acquisition announcement we will be taking this work much further to make our world class developer tools and services even better with deeper integration and enable seamless mobile app dev experiences. The combination of Xamarin, Visual Studio, Visual Studio Team Services, and Azure delivers a complete mobile app dev solution that provides everything a developer needs to develop, test, deliver and instrument mobile apps for every device. We are really excited to see what you build with it.
We are looking forward to providing more information about our plans in the near future – starting at the Microsoft //Build conference coming up in a few weeks, followed by Xamarin Evolve in late April. Be sure to watch my Build keynote and get a front row seat at Evolve to learn more!
This announcement is huge. Expect Xamarin technology to quickly become free and fully integrated in Visual Studio. Expect Unity to eventually get a version of C# that isn’t from the stone age. Put simply, expect the usage to C#, especially in the mobile space, to absolutely explode!
I’ve been waiting a decade for this news! I look forward to seeing exactly how all of this plays out.