Microsoft acquiring Xamarin. My take.

27 בפברואר 2016

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A few days ago, my twitter feed was ablaze, Microsoft decided to finally acquire Xamarin. I've even received a few mentions:

XamAriel

I've asked myself, am I really pleased by this Microsoft move?

Currently I've mixed feelings, it's all subject to change since we don't really know the plans that will be set in motion (I've got a hunch that Microsoft doesn't know either at this time of writing). Clearly it's not simple to swallow a company such as Xamarin whole. I'm going to assume for now that Xamarin has not been acquired to be shot in the head and make room for something that Microsoft has been cooking and they wanted to get them out of the way.

Positive

  • Microsoft get a foothold deep into iOS and Android territory. It's not that Window UWP doesn't interest it, it does, and they will keep investing on it, but they need to make sure more and more developers are actually using Windows Azure, and that's why they need to be visible in the Mobile community. It means potentially better VS support, better XAML support and better tooling.
  • Xamarin has been notoriously infamous with their licensing model, outrageously expansive, and worst, it doesn't even include supporting services such as Xamarin Insights, Test Cloud, etc. Microsoft could put an end to this and make it sane again.
  • Xamarin's products relaying on Microsoft's input will get more resources. though,  I'm pretty sure they had it already back when it was not marriage, but just courtship. However it should be easier.

Neutral

  • Xamarin as a company has been very innovative, they have been pushing out services and tools that at times were out there prematurely (Looking at you, Xamarin Profiler) , I honestly respect their audacity to push products in such early stages. Another good example is Xamarin Forms which till that day Xamarin itself hasn't decided if it's for realz. But do I want this innovation to stop only because of a few "bumps" on the road? Hell, no. Do I want Xamarin Forms to be better, Hell yes! so this point is neutral.

Negative

  • Xamarin Forms: As of Today, Xamarin Forms is just not ready, it has a way to cover to get prime time performance (especially on Android), XAML story is missing key components, API is missing key components (Good luck getting reliable navigation information) and now it's Microsoft problem. What would they do with it?  On one hand it is key attraction for developers already proficient with XAML/C# like WPF developers and you got a potential convergence with UWP in the future. On the other hand, Microsoft-Xamarin got a chance to kill it now, by just leaving this headache behind, and perhaps in the future recreate its vision again, but it will leave out developers already committed to Xamarin Forms.
  • Xamarin Studio: Is there a place for Xamarin Studio now? hard to tell, it has a place especially on OSX where currently Microsoft only have Visual Studio Code (which is just a glorified text editor). But on Windows? will Microsoft appreciate supporting 2 IDEs? doesn't make much sense, will XS becomes an unloved child which is forcing itself on a parent?
  • .NET Core/ Mono: Same story, another duplication of resources, the .NET core to my understanding has overlapping usages. Will Miguel be forced to ditch mono, hard to believe, but yet why push .NET Core when you got the Mono maintainers in house?

With that I'd like to congratulate my friends at Xamarin (a list growing quite rapidly lately :)).

Ariel

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