Xamarin now comes free with Visual Studio


— 4:26 PM on March 31, 2016

Microsoft recently acquired cross-platform mobile development kit purveyors Xamarin. Today, there's a treat for mobile app developers worldwide: the Xamarin software is now included for free in all versions of Microsoft's Visual Studio IDE.

That news will be of particular interest to users of Visual Studio Community Edition, which is free for pretty much everyone except mid-sized and larger companies. Interested developers can now publish native iOS and Android apps built with C# or F# directly from inside Visual Studio. Mac developers won't be left out in the cold by this move, either. Visual Studio Professional and Enterprise subscribers can now use Xamarin Studio, and there's also a free edition of that software called Xamarin Studio Community Edition.

Xamarin also has a few open-source efforts to announce. The company will be open-sourcing the Xamarin SDKs for Android, iOS and Mac in "the coming months." The company has also contributed the Mono Project to the .NET Foundation, including "some previously-proprietary mobile-specific improvements to the Mono runtime." As a quick refresher, one of Xamarin's founders is Miguel de Icaza, the founder of the Mono project, an open-source cross-plaftorm implementation of .NET.

In addition, Mono itself will switch to an MIT License model, which places few restrictions on code reuse. Microsoft also wrote a Patent Promise for Mono, stating it will not assert any "applicable patents" against anyone for "using, selling, offering for sale, importing, or distributing Mono." Xamarin says these changes should allow developers to "easily integrate C# with apps and games on iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows, as well as PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and any emerging platforms."

Xamarin's Nat Friedman had this to say about the move:

With these changes, .NET is now open source and native on every single device, from mobile to desktop to cloud. This is a proud moment for all of us who have invested years into making .NET the best platform, and we know that this change will make it even easier for developers to invest their own time into building great software in C#.

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