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Microsoft is buying a company that’s key to its cross-platform future

Microsoft is buying a company that’s key to its cross-platform future

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Microsoft today says it's acquiring mobile app development startup Xamarin for an undisclosed sum, giving the company a tool for building mobile apps that can work across iOS, Android, and Windows phones. Xamarin, which has 15,000 customers including large brand names like Coca-Cola and JetBlue, allows developers to code in a single programming language while designing an app to look native to each platform. Xamarin also offers a way for developers to test those apps using thousands of cloud-hosted devices. One of the four-year-old startup's main products relies on Microsoft's Visual Studio software, so this acquisition is a natural pairing.

"We have had a longstanding relationship with Xamarin," writes Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's executive vice president of the company's cloud and enterprise group, in a blog post. "With today’s acquisition announcement we will be taking this work much further to make our world class developer tools and services even better with deeper integration and seamless mobile app dev experiences."

Xamarin will further Microsoft's platform-agnostic app approach

Microsoft has spent the better part of the last two years establishing itself on mobile as a maker of apps for competitors' platforms. The goal is to create users of Windows and Office software on every device out there — including iPhones, iPads, and Android phones — as a way to drive subscriptions to its cloud-based products and rope more people into Microsoft's ecosystem. At last year's Microsoft Build conference, the company announced an ambitious initiative to help developers port iOS and Android apps to Windows 10. While that effort, codenamed Project Astoria, hasn't fully panned out quite yet, the acquisition of Xamarin should help Microsoft offer similar development tools for making cross-platform apps from the start.