Xamarin now comes free with Visual Studio

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#.

Comments closed
    • Tristan
    • 4 years ago

    Probably bad move that they gave it for free. Price like 400$ coould be better for them. Original prices was 1000$ per platform, so these 400$ means bit more than 10% (for iOS, Android and Windows). Microsoft do not make money on Phone sales, so Xamarin prices could compensate it. They paid 500mln$ just to help Android and iOS…

      • NovusBogus
      • 4 years ago

      They don’t have much choice. The double whammy of rising cross-platform demand and the Win8 meltdown hit the Microsoft developer world hard and many are seeking out platforms other than .NET. This is very dangerous for MS because their main business model–selling expensive stuff to big companies–is predicated on the whole organization using the same toolset. The chain gets broken if the R&D guys start running Linux and telling the IT guys that Bash isn’t *that* much worse than PowerShell.

        • Zizy
        • 4 years ago

        Well, Bash is purportedly better for running Linux, PS for Windows. I don’t think one can really replace the other, but then again I am not in IT.
        Agreed about the rest. Java looks great again, Android is the main platform now and runs (fake) Java, as does Windows world. Everything else is either Apple or irrelevant. Where Swift isn’t taking off yet – Java is (finally) nice and (has always been) known, Swift isn’t.

    • blitzy
    • 4 years ago

    This is pretty awesome, when I heard MS acquired Xamarin I wondered how long it’d be before they opened it up. Last year I did a bunch of research on what the best tools were for cross platform app development. Xamarin was right up there for ease of use / benefits, only barrier was cost which meant you had to be really committed to app dev to try it out (beyond the limited demo). This is a big move for making Visual Studio a cross platform IDE of choice. Not sure what their long term plans are, but for developers this is a big benefit IMO. The free cross platform tools were not nearly as well supported / documented / well-rounded as Xamarin.

      • TheMonkeyKing
      • 4 years ago

      I think has been said in another article but bears repeating. Microsoft is moving the OS to become a walled garden like Apple. Sure you can develop your games, applications outside their developer’s tools and even try to sell it on the open market, but that will be discouraged as probably anything not coming from their internal app store will be met with installation pop-ups with dire warnings, et al.

      So Microsoft is finally getting around to cutting out anything that does come directly from Microsoft or vetted through their store. All in the name of “security” and “ensured good user experience.”

        • blitzy
        • 4 years ago

        walled garden != cross platform development tool. I do agree that MS would like to lock people into their storefront if they could, but I don’t think this particular move furthers that aim. They would have to change xamarin so that it required a MS store app, and nobody would ever accept that on their android or iOS devices… I think they’re just hedging their bets by staying involved in things people want.

      • NovusBogus
      • 4 years ago

      It’s the smart move, if not Microsoft’s proudest moment. Many developers are moving toward Java and Qt for mobile/Mac/Linux compatibility, and .NET needs to get in there and offer similar functionality in order to stay relevant.

    • weaktoss
    • 4 years ago

    About time! Xamarin has always been a good product, but discouragingly expensive. I wonder what ramifications this will have for MonoGame.

    • digitalnut
    • 4 years ago

    Just downloaded the update for Visual Studio from Xamarin and VS Update 2. Works great. Now I can use just one environment (Visual Studio), instead of bouncing back and forth between Visual Studio (for Windows Universal App) and Xamarin (for Android) for the app we are developing.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 4 years ago

    I still don’t know where Microsoft is going with all of this. They want to sell corps on big VS licenses but otherwise…?

      • smilingcrow
      • 4 years ago

      They are desperate to get developers to write apps for WP and also touch focussed apps for tablets and convertibles.
      I’ve been saying this for a while and this seems another obvious step in that direction.
      Probably too late for WP but they still want to gain traction in those other two areas I mentioned.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 4 years ago

        It’s like way late for all that. Not that every app that will ever be written has already been written, but for a lot of projects there’s just no way they’re going to rewrite the whole dang thing now.

        It’s not Satya Nadella’s fault, for sure, since Microsoft should have jumped on this at its inception. By the time Xamarin was “a thing”, it was painfully obvious that Android and iOS were entrenched as “app” platforms that weren’t going away.

        The pricing on Xamarin was through the roof. It was much cheaper for my employer to buy into Genero. Had Xamarin been free with MSDN back in early 2014 I’m sure we’d have gone that way instead.

          • smilingcrow
          • 4 years ago

          Hence my use of the word desperate.
          MS are still in denial to a strong degree over the decline of their empire.
          Denial leads to all sorts of desperate and futile measures.
          There is still a fight on for convertibles and docking smartphones so maybe that is what MS are fighting for?

            • derFunkenstein
            • 4 years ago

            Either they’re desperate or in denial. if they were in denial they’d be unchanging, aight?

            • smilingcrow
            • 4 years ago

            With acceptance there is no need for desperation. With denial there is fragmentation and from that confused state the hope based on illusion can lead to desperation.

          • sweatshopking
          • 4 years ago

          Actually, many large companies that long ago abandoned WP have come back with win 10, including starbucks, bank of America, facebook, etc. Not sure what the future holds, and I expect WP sales to continue where they are, but there are more apps coming, and since the store apps on the desktop work with xamarin, it is more about the desktop than wp.

            • chuckula
            • 4 years ago

            IL CUBANO!!!

            • oldog
            • 4 years ago

            El Cubano?

            • sweatshopking
            • 4 years ago

            ONE MORE MONTH!

        • hansmuff
        • 4 years ago

        WP just seems dead as roadkill. I’m not at Build but I looked at a bunch of live blogs. What struck me was that they were talking about pen heavily but.. where’s that WP support and actual implementation? Nowhere.

        As you said, too late for WP. Any wonderful hardware/software at this point is throwing good money after bad. I do hope the Surface builds a solid following, I kind of like it just don’t have the money to throw at it.

        • Entroper
        • 4 years ago

        I don’t think they care about Windows Phone anymore. They want the ecosystem. They want developers using C# in VS on W10 whether it’s for Windows Desktop, Web, iOS, Android, etc.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 4 years ago

          where, exactly, is the money in that if they’re giving it away to almost everyone?

      • tsk
      • 4 years ago

      They open it up before they completely close it down, that way you can lure people in, and never let them leave. It’s the perfect tactic.

        • smilingcrow
        • 4 years ago

        Or give them both away (VS & Xamarin) for free for 3 years or so and then start charging!

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