The past year has seen Microsoft take a number of strides towards realizing CEO Satya Nadella’s “cloud-first, mobile-first” vision. Once laser-focused on its own devices and operating systems, the company is increasingly platform-agnostic: It wants business customers and developers to use its cloud-based software, no matter what OS they prefer.
On Wednesday, Microsoft took those efforts one step further by acquiring Xamarin, a company that allows developers to easily create and test native apps for multiple platforms, including Windows, iOS, Android and OS X, using the C# language.
This is bigger than Microsoft’s previous attempts at building a bridge to port over iOS and Android apps to Windows 10. Xamarin’s technology could potentially allow Microsoft developers to build truly universal apps that work seamlessly across a number of platforms. It’s a smart move for Microsoft at a time when Windows Phones are floundering in the market and most mobile devices are running iOS or Android.
Microsoft has already incorporated Xamarin tools into Visual Studio, Azure and Office 365. But the acquisition promises a deeper integration that should benefit developers in ways both large and small. Being able to build on .NET using a single code base should streamline app development. And on a practical level, Microsoft could open up Xamarin to more independent developers by allowing full access via their existing Visual Studio subscriptions.
“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,” Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise Group, wrote in a blog post. “We are really excited to see what you build with it.”