Microsoft rumored to acquire Xamarin to help expand mobile development

Microsoft could be planning to acquire or put some money in a company that makes tools for creating mobile apps in C#. CRN, via unnamed sources, claims that the company in the final stages of talks with San Francisco-based Xamarin. which was founded in 2011.

The report says that such a deal could be a game changer for Microsoft in its continuing efforts to gain a bigger piece of the mobile applications pie. Acquiring Xamarin might mean Microsoft could give app developers a way to make iOS and Android-based software using Microsoft-based tools such as Visual Studio. It could also let those same developers link their apps to Microsoft-based services like Windows Azure.

It might encourage mobile app creators to port their software to Windows 8 and Windows Phone, which would in turn boost the number of apps for both platforms. Microsoft and Xamarin already have announced a partnership in November that integrates Xamarin's technology into Visual Studio and also allows for the company's tools to be used by Microsoft's MSDN subscribers.

Xamarin has raised $28 million in venture capital funding since it was founded. It offers its tools via a yearly subscription model with prices ranging for $299 for individuals to $1,899 per user for enterprise customers.

Source: CRN | Image via Xamarin

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Anyone can make hardware software is a different thing... IMO MS should have bought Instagram and snapshot.... think about it this way the Xbox has used Exclusivity to sell consoles Halo and now Titanfall. MS needs to be snapping up companies like this all the time...

I really hope so, and in the process what really could kick ass is if they set this tools available for free...
Multi-Platform targeting with Visual Studio and in my almost natural C# language... If this turns true, then forget about JAVA or Objective C.

For me this is a winner already.

Wow ... I am organizer of the Toronto Xamarin Group on meetup.com

Our company uses Xamarin for mobile app development and windows desktop and apple desktop

I teach workshops on Xamarin ... i guess i going to be teaching lots of people soon

riahc3 said,
I would always hope that MS allows VS to target Android and iOS...

Programming in Java is just painful.

At this point they just might do that, if you can have VS target those two, and then at the same time a simple option to also build a Windows/WP project for the same app with little fuss is possible then it's win-win for MS and the developers out there IMO.

If they would change the pricing scheme, make Visual Studio integration available to all (come... on... xamarin... You're little xCode ide clone is good but it ain't Visual kill all other Ide's Studio good)

Xamarin is not only the maker of Xamarin Studio and Visual Studio add-ins. It's also the company who sponsor Mono. Not sure i like it.

LaP said,
Xamarin is not only the maker of Xamarin Studio and Visual Studio add-ins. It's also the company who sponsor Mono. Not sure i like it.

Really, what is negative about this?

Microsoft is the creator of the basis of Mono, so in their hands directly it would get more credibility and support from Microsoft.

Mobius Enigma said,

Really, what is negative about this?

Microsoft is the creator of the basis of Mono, so in their hands directly it would get more credibility and support from Microsoft.

The acquisition of the only company offering a decent .NET port to non-Microsoft platforms could certainly be a concern. It is surely of great concern to the Mac and Linux communities, especially given the proliferation of MonoGame based games on those platforms.

Of course, if Microsoft are willing to take the Mono implementation and merge it into a full cross-platform .NET implementation, it could be great, although frankly Mono does it very well already without Microsoft assistance.

There's also the concern that Mono releases could slow down. With at least one recent CLS spec update, Xamarin have beaten Microsoft out the gate with their release. I'd expect that not to happen if Microsoft takes over the release schedule for Mono.

Time will tell if this proves to be a good thing. Oracle did okay with their takeover of Java (only "okay" because they broke compatibility at least once), so there's nothing to say that Microsoft would trash Mono, but I'm still wary of such a takeover. Has a lot of potential to go bad for the non-Microsoft community.

Majesticmerc said,
Time will tell if this proves to be a good thing. Oracle did okay with their takeover of Java (only "okay" because they broke compatibility at least once), so there's nothing to say that Microsoft would trash Mono, but I'm still wary of such a takeover. Has a lot of potential to go bad for the non-Microsoft community.

Don't see them pulling an "evil-Microsoft" move with this. Going to spend a lot of money to get it and there's a lot of commercial developers using it, including some pretty big names. Not exactly in their best interest to destroy it, never mind it is an open source project to begin with under the GPL and MIT licenses.

You're probably right Max. Just in the indie game market there's some "big" names using Mono. Unless i'm mistaken i think Bastion was made with MonoGame. It is in MS best interest to support Mono and i would even say make it finally an official MS product. We need to give the new CEO a chance to prove he is better than the previous CEO.

LaP said,
Xamarin is not only the maker of Xamarin Studio and Visual Studio add-ins. It's also the company who sponsor Mono. Not sure i like it.

Honestly I'd much prefer an port of the actual .NET framework, over Mono. My exp. with Mono has never been particularly great.

Majesticmerc said,

The acquisition of the only company offering a decent .NET port to non-Microsoft platforms could certainly be a concern. It is surely of great concern to the Mac and Linux communities, especially given the proliferation of MonoGame based games on those platforms.

Of course, if Microsoft are willing to take the Mono implementation and merge it into a full cross-platform .NET implementation, it could be great, although frankly Mono does it very well already without Microsoft assistance.

There's also the concern that Mono releases could slow down. With at least one recent CLS spec update, Xamarin have beaten Microsoft out the gate with their release. I'd expect that not to happen if Microsoft takes over the release schedule for Mono.

Time will tell if this proves to be a good thing. Oracle did okay with their takeover of Java (only "okay" because they broke compatibility at least once), so there's nothing to say that Microsoft would trash Mono, but I'm still wary of such a takeover. Has a lot of potential to go bad for the non-Microsoft community.

Ok, fair point.

With Microsoft involved though, it could mean a lot more than just a very basic .NET port. Right now Mono keeps missing important frameworks and this could bring Microsoft support for all .NET frameworks.

More importantly, it could open up support for .NET 'similar' technologies and frameworks that are now as important as .NET itself.

It'd be huge for them to get developers to use your tools and have them be able to target the leading mobile platforms while having the easy option to also push out Windows versions with little effort then why wouldn't they?

This would be good news, as I presume Xamarin would then be included with Visual Studio. The license is pretty expensive, now. Perhaps this is what will be announced at Build next month, along with new investments in WPF.

Standalone Xamarin license is expensive but it is already bundled with MSDN subscription which makes the whole thing a lot more valuable proposition (although MSDN is even more expensive but you get so much stuff with it). Also startups will be able to signup for BizSpark and get all the goodies for free for up to 3 years after which point chances are they are either going to be profitable enough to where the cost won't matter as much.

Obry said,
Standalone Xamarin license is expensive but it is already bundled with MSDN subscription which makes the whole thing a lot more valuable proposition (although MSDN is even more expensive but you get so much stuff with it). Also startups will be able to signup for BizSpark and get all the goodies for free for up to 3 years after which point chances are they are either going to be profitable enough to where the cost won't matter as much.

Already bundled with MSDN? http://xamarin.com/msdn says MSDN users get a discount, but it's still damn expensive... where is it "bundled"?

Skwerl said,
This would be good news, as I presume Xamarin would then be included with Visual Studio. The license is pretty expensive, now. Perhaps this is what will be announced at Build next month, along with new investments in WPF.
I think it's expensive for those hobbying... for those actually using the tools to be productive the cost is very reasonable.

MrHumpty said,
I think it's expensive for those hobbying... for those actually using the tools to be productive the cost is very reasonable.

there is a free license - restricted in app size I think, but still very usable. Also they do have major discounts for students.

.NET Dev Addict said,

there is a free license - restricted in app size I think, but still very usable. Also they do have major discounts for students.


The App size restriction is ridiculously small, making it pointless. In testing, I had small test projects exceeding this size in only a couple of hours...

Every once in a while MS needs to be reminded of its roots--if they integrate this into Visual Studio and make it a kick-ass multiplatform dev tool, and forget about its "Windows first" approach, they can totally own it.

If a developer can target a different platform just by changing project settings, then it won't matter which store has the most apps, as nobody will have an incentive NOT to make their apps available on all of them at the same time.

That being said, I've never looked at Xamarin, so I don't know to what extent making this work seamlessly is realistic.

_dandy_ said,
Every once in a while MS needs to be reminded of its roots--if they integrate this into Visual Studio and make it a kick-ass multiplatform dev tool, and forget about its "Windows first" approach, they can totally own it.

If a developer can target a different platform just by changing project settings, then it won't matter which store has the most apps, as nobody will have an incentive NOT to make their apps available on all of them at the same time.

That being said, I've never looked at Xamarin, so I don't know to what extent making this work seamlessly is realistic.

Oddly, the 'Windows First' only seems to have gotten stuck to the development teams, as the services teams have been becoming open to all avenues of revenue.

In a weird way, this will give the development teams a way to move beyond 'Windows Only', but still push 'Windows First' and encourage developers to start their projects focused on fitting a model that services Windows and other platforms at the same time.

If done well, this would not only be an olive branch, but a massive encouragement to development teams to works with the newer development models available from Microsoft and on Windows and then extend that work to the other platforms.

So instead of building from more rustic models and trying to make them work on newer platform models, they can build with the latest development models and then regress as needed for lower end platforms.

The frameworks introduced by Microsoft over the past few years are far more advanced that most developers realize when they are building for iOS or Android and then simply porting to Windows/WP. By encouraging the use of the new framework models in addition to the new development models, it could move developers into the 21st century.

Haven't tried it myself, mobile app development isn't my thing, but a friend of mine swears by it.. one code base for all platforms using familiar tools and says it's a huge time saver.

scumdogmillionaire said,
Xamarin has been on my radar to check out for a while. Seems like this would be a game changer for sure if MS nabbed it.

Agreed. This would be HUGE for Microsoft if true...