back to article Microsoft acquires Xamarin: An obvious move not without risks

Microsoft is acquiring Xamarin, a move which goes to the heart of the company's new mobile strategy. What is that strategy? Since Satya Nadella succeeded Steve Ballmer as CEO, the company has focused on a cross-platform mobile approach, creating strong versions of Office that run on Android and iOS as well as Windows 10 Mobile …

  1. kryptylomese

    Comapnies do not want or need to be locked into Redmons crap

    "The risks for Microsoft are considerable though, both in terms of making the acquisition work, and in keeping customers on its platform via applications that run on operating systems belonging to competitors. "

    Microsot do not like other operating systems, just look at their latest move of making non Windows Skype users loose their ability to talk to Windows Skype users - it is shameful!

    1. Anonymous Blowhard

      Re: Comapnies do not want or need to be locked into Redmons crap

      "just look at their latest move of making non Windows Skype users loose their ability to talk to Windows Skype users"

      First, it's "lose" not "loose"!

      Second, I think you have confabulated the re-branding of "Lync", which was never compatible with Skype, to "Skype for Business"; normal Skype on Windows works with any other version of Skype.

      1. Jos V

        Re: Comapnies do not want or need to be locked into Redmons crap

        Not entirely so A.B.

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/02/25/linux_skype_outage_outrage/

  2. 45RPM

    Barring a few hiccoughs, I'd say that Nadella's Microsoft is getting more open and collaborative every day. Sure, if it was Ballmer's Microsoft I'd be worried - but Ballmer is almost as mad as Trump.

    With Nadella though? I think (and I hope I'm right) that this is all good news. Mono is a great project - and I hope that, under Microsoft, it's IDE will be further improved and have vastly greater compatibility with Visual Studio*

    *never gonna happen! I can wish all I want, but…

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cross Platform == Lowest common denominator + bugs

    It's bad enough to have to work around bugs in the operating system and tools of major companies (e.g. Apple), but add another layer of bugs and limitations to your work and have fun with that. Any serious commercial applications will be written natively for each platform. Any small developers who don't have the time or experience to properly port their apps to each platform can't afford Xamarin at the moment. In other words, this announcement is probably another attempt to shore up the enterprise market and has no real bearing on mobile.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cross Platform == Lowest common denominator + bugs

      Yep.

      The enterprise license for Xaramin is peanuts (for its target customer, that is). "I" bought one for a prototype/PoC. The real product was 2 native apps.

    2. jsauve

      Re: Cross Platform == Lowest common denominator + bugs

      In *most* cross-platform frameworks, your lowest common denominator assertion would be correct. But you're entirely incorrect in this case. Xamarin has 100% API coverage of the platforms that it supports. That's not lowest common denominator. ANYTHING you can so in Obj-C for iOS or in Java for Android can be done in C# with Xamarin. I should know. I've been doing it for 5 years.

      1. Deltics

        Re: Cross Platform == Lowest common denominator + bugs

        Yep, the only real "problem" with Xamarin is that knowledge and skills are locked in to Xamarin. You don't come away from a Xamarin project as an Android or iOS developer. Just a Xamarin developer.

        Which can be fine but Xamarin is still - I think it's fair to say - a niche player in the mobile development space.

        Also, from what I understand unless and until new platform API's are wrapped up in the Xamarin abstraction, if you want early access to those API's you have to step outside of the comfortable abstractions and into the native platform inter-op. Even if you are willing/able to do that, you then need to accept that you a) lose your single-source cross-platform code and b) will have to re-work those parts of your application once the abstraction is in place in order to regain that cross-platform character.

        If any of that is incorrect I would be genuinely interested to hear (I don't use Xamarin myself, preferring other tools for my mobile dev, so this comes from people I know that do [and don't necessarily enjoy it]).

    3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Cross Platform == Lowest common denominator + bugs

      Any serious commercial applications will be written natively for each platform.

      1997 called and wants its memes back!

      (What does "natively" mean anyway? Yup, "in C with lots of #ifdef"s)

  4. DeathStation 9000
    Thumb Up

    Fingers crossed...

    Good lord, I do hope this works out well! I may finally be able to write something for my phone.

    This isn't intended as flame-bait (it is just my personal opinion), but by god do I hate Java as a language to code in. I'd rather code in COBOL. C# is one of the few decent things Microsoft invented IMHO and is my language of choice after C.

    The Xamarin stuff was always awful to try out -- I grabbed the trail version and I couldn't even compile an Android Wear project before I actually added any code to it! So if it ends up in VS (and it must make the community editions), I for one will be a happy camper.

    1. joeldillon

      Re: Fingers crossed...

      You could always use Qt! Works fine on Android and iOS (and Windows Phone), and it's free.

      1. DeathStation 9000

        Re: Fingers crossed...

        Thanks, didn't know about that. I can handle C++ without screaming in agony as much as I do in Java ;-)

        The only thing that stopped me trying to use the NDK was the big warnings from Google saying something along the lines of 'Don't use this just because you prefer the languages involved', so I assume that can be taken with a pinch of salt :-)

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Fingers crossed...

          I can handle C++ without screaming in agony as much as I do in Java ;-)

          Put your hands up and step the fuck away from that workstation! Calmly, now!!

      2. Christoban

        Re: Fingers crossed...

        Qt costs $3000 per dev for commercial use.

    2. Anonymous Bullard

      Re: Fingers crossed...

      You're doing it wrong.

      When I'm doing any android work I don't think of it as "Java", but a "cut-down version of C# - because it's on a mobile."

      (I've done WinCE)

    3. Tom Chiverton 1

      Re: Fingers crossed...

      You can do that now with JavaScript/HTML/CSS and Cordova / PhoneGap (+PhoneGap build to save installing any local dev tools at all).

      1. Christoban

        Re: Fingers crossed...

        JavaScript/HTML/CSS and Cordova / PhoneGap have no or very limited ability to reach into the target platforms' APIs. Xamarin offers total, simple API coverage of the target platform.

  5. deanchalk

    As a long-term Windows Developer, and a long-term certified Xamarin developer, I can say that the news is welcome.

    However, This will do nothing to revive the fortunes of the Windows platform as currently Xamarin only really supports iOS and Android cross-platform development. The reason is because all mobile developers use Mac computers, so developing for Windows with Xamarin requires a really horrible VM setup that is very clunky and un-productive (so no-one will bother - like now). The ONLY solution is for Microsoft to port Visual Studio to the Mac and create Windows 10 emulators for the Mac THEN we have a technology stack and tooling stack that has real teeth

    1. petelegeek

      Surely it would be easier to add more functionality to Xamarin Studio on the Mac than port Visual Studio. We will hopefully hear more about the plans at Build and Evolve.

    2. Christoban

      I think if they do something tricky like offer Xamarin for free IF you also target UWP, it will help UWP a lot.

  6. Kinetic
    Thumb Up

    Great, now fix all the problems in Xamarin!

    This is great news as long as they roll up their sleeves and get fixing stuff fast. Xamarin as a concept is great, but there are a number of problems especially in forms.

    Speed, more speed! The layout seems crazy slow right now.

    A deterministic layout engine would be nice on Android. You can have a layout that works 3 out of 4 times. It's exactly the same code and data, but the fourth time you visit the page, it lays out differently. This seems to be especially true of text labels - WTF? How do you even go about creating a bug like that?

    Layouts in forms, generally suck. Padding doesn't work the same on iOS as android, Grid layouts are particularly unpredictable. Nesting layouts (which you inevitably have to do) can produce unexpected layout issues.

    Intellisense support for Xamarin forms XAML. It's basically unusable right now. We write everything in code, as we get intellisense support there, and with the long compile / install times you cannot afford the hit/miss nature of writing XAML without intellisense.

    Create a decent paging system for Xamarin Forms, the existing ones sucks bad. When you change from one page to the next, everything visibly blanks/redraws and generally looks very unprofessional.

    We are looking at binning theirs and creating our own in-page solution.

    MORE SPEED!

    Generally, writing in C# in visual studio for mobile is a great experience, but there's enough problems right now that it's not the slam-dunk obvious recommendation that it should be.

    Did I mention speed?

    Stop the debugger failing to connect about 25% of the time, and the app crash on startup with a debugger about 10% of the time (with android).

    Fix the use of partial classes - you get a weird bug where it sometimes can't hit breakpoints in code that's split across two files (haven't seen this for a week or so, so it may be fixed).

    Fix the fast deploy system for android so that it doesn't miss changes you make and consequently waste half your day hunting for problems that don't exist!

    Really hope they fix all this, as writing mobile apps in C# is a whole better experience than either Java or JavaScript+HTML in my experience.

    1. petelegeek

      Re: Great, now fix all the problems in Xamarin!

      Fully agree. I have to write all my Xamarin in code while doing using Xaml in WPF. This is OK but would ideally like to use markup for both. Speed is like you say a big problem. The whole build and deploy process as got slower and means I make more cups of tea every day!

  7. Sil

    The deal makes so much sense for Microsoft and for developers knowledgeable in C# and .NET.

    At 400-500 million dollars, it is a steal, and has so much more potential than most of Microsoft's latest acquisitions such as Swiftkey.

    The challenge for Microsoft is to fix all that is wrong with Xamarin: the bugs, the points mentioned above by Kinetic. And to make it seamless with the Universal Windows Platform in a very short time, notably converge Xamarin Forms and Microsoft XAML.

  8. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    One step closer...

    ... to Monogame becoming XNA5

  9. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
    Happy

    Miguel de Icaza and Microsoft

    Fully deserve each other.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Miguel de Icaza and Microsoft

      Wow. What a trainwreck. From open-source .NET alternative to Microsoft subsidiary. That's the end for this white elephant; no more false hope, just one more reason to avoid .NET altogether.

      Embrace, Extend, Engulf, Implode... the Microsoft way.

      1. tekHedd

        Re: Miguel de Icaza and Microsoft

        Well said! (Or as I put it, "Oh bloody hell.")

    2. Mikel

      Re: Miguel de Icaza and Microsoft

      At least de Icaza finally gets his payoff for sucking up to Microsoft all these years.

  10. UncleMike987

    Stability

    I've trialed Xamarin a few times over the years, and each time came away miserable.

    The idea is genius... being able to write screens, call web services, use JSON.Net, etc using C# in an iOS app is fantastic. The problem is, Xamarin Studio for iOS just never stopped crashing every few minutes. I also tried using Xamarin from within Visual Studio on a Windows laptop, and connecting to my MacBook, but that was even worse.

    In the end, Xamarin was never worth the time, money or risk, of developing our apps in, and I reluctantly had to travel back in time to the 1990s, and stick to using the appallingly-bad Xcode instead.

    So, although this takeover is excellent news, I do wonder if Microsoft is finally going to make Xamarin's code stable, without it tarnishing Visual Studio's excellent reputation.

  11. HmmmYes

    I like C# as a language.

    I've done some odds + sods with it and it really well thought out.

    However ....

    I'm fcked if Im going to invest much in a MS-only technology.

    MS have changed - they've gone from screwing you over to just plain fkcing up.

    Come back when C# is available on LLVM with no hidden surprises.

    1. druck Silver badge

      @ HmmmYes

      Despite all my pre-conceptions I too ended up liking C# when I started using it. It's saving grace was that there was a commercial company supporting it on non Microsoft platforms, but not that's gone now. We can look forward to a $400m to $500m write down in a years time, mono rotting, and Core.NET changing in incompatible ways on every second day of the week.

  12. FuzzyWuzzys
    Happy

    Great move MS....

    ....now make Xamarin free to use within Visual Studio and you'll be fighting off C# developers with a shitty stick!

  13. Deltics

    The inevitable next step...

    This was always on the cards when previously Microsoft embraced Xamarin as a partner in the mobile development space.

    The next logical step, which duly followed, was to work with Xamarin to extend the technology and the partnership and bring the two closer together.

    Embrace.

    Extend.

    Can someone remind me... what is it that always comes next with Microsoft ?

    ;)

  14. IGnatius T Foobar Bronze badge

    Miguel and Nat have always worked for Microsoft

    Miguel de Icaza and Nat Friedman have *always* been on Microsoft's payroll. Evidently the new management has decided that those two enemies of open source don't have to be secret moles anymore.

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