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Microsoft opens up and makes it easier for developers to build Android apps

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Another sign the software giant is changing

Microsoft is making it even easier for developers to build Android apps using the company’s own development tools. In a set of broad developer-focused announcements today, Microsoft has launched a preview of an Android emulator that will let developers build and test apps for Google’s platform. The emulator is part of Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2015 release, and it will support a number of features designed to help developers emulate a real device. It’s a surprise move given the many third-party alternatives, but Microsoft seems to be serious about offering developers the ability to properly build and test apps for Android.

A significant move away from Microsoft's founding idea of paid software

In a separate and significant announcement, Microsoft also announced it’s open sourcing .NET, the company’s core software framework. Microsoft will make .NET cross-platform on OS X and Linux, alongside a release on GitHub. It’s arguably a move the software maker could and should have made many years ago, but it’s a significant change that developers will embrace. Microsoft is clearly hoping its open sourcing of .NET will help attract more developers to its own technologies, and help the company work with the wider industry. It’s also yet another of example of how the company is changing and moving away from its founding idea that consumers should pay for software.

Finally, Microsoft is also creating a new Visual Studio Community 2013 app that’s a free and fully featured version of Visual Studio. Developers will be able to advantage of extensions and support for building apps across multiple platforms and devices. While Microsoft has offered free versions of Visual Studio before with Express editions, the Community version will eventually replace those and offer a lot more functionality for free.

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