Over a year ago, Microsoft announced that it was going to enable developers to easily port their iOS and Android apps to Windows 10. Yet, the company has had open struggles with its efforts to create its ambitious cross-platform tools. Last week, the firm shuttered Project Astoria, it’s tool for porting Android apps, whilst also announcing the acquisition of Xamarin.
As we’ve written about in the past, Xamarin is a tool that enables .Net and C# developers – the language traditionally used by Windows developers – to build apps for iOS and Android.
Whilst Xamarin will help .Net and C# developers build apps for other platforms, it won’t help Android developers bring their apps to Windows. It’s possible that Microsoft is hoping that by bringing Xamarin’s technology into its own stack, it will be better placed to encourage developers to build apps in C# or .Net. Whether the lure of Windows 10 is enough for developers to build apps for the platform, however, remains to be seen.
One theory is that with Microsoft’s focus over the past few years of bringing its suite of services and software to Android and iOS, the move could signal that the company is tooling up to help its developers think beyond Windows.
Earlier this year, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella admitted in an interview with Buzzfeed that the 1.7% market share of mobile phones running Windows is unsustainable. Instead, the company sees the importance of viewing different devices and platforms as nodes. It understands that its future depends on making its services and the software that traditional Windows developers offer, run on as many different platforms as possible.
This is largely down to the fact that people use a number of different platforms throughout the day. Whilst they are at work, they may be working from a Windows computer, whilst having an Android phone and an iPad at home. They may also get a Hololens (when it comes out) or have children running a Chromebook.
One area Xamarin makes sense for particularly would be enterprise business who have large in-house .NET teams, who don’t want to bring in specialist native developers. This highlights why this is a smart acquisition for Microsoft, who will be keen to keep developers within the .NET ecosystem.
With many companies running Windows 10 on desktop, but needing to support Android or iOS, Xamarin could help them take any of their core applications and build mobile versions.