The New Microsoft - Visual Studio Community, Open-Source .NET, Expanded Xamarin Partnerships and more

Tobias Zimmergren
Tobias Zimmergren

One word. WOW.

I am glad I chose to work with Microsoft technologies back in the day when I had to choose the direction for my professional career. I started with .NET back in 2001 and have been full-time developing solutions and systems based on Microsoft technologies for a long time – but by the looks of recent announcements, I feel that the journey has just begun – and it looks like Microsoft really means business with their new directions and openness.

Here’s some of my favorite recent announcements and changes from Microsoft. I’m very excited, and you should be too!

Microsoft expands partnership with Xamarin


I’ve been an avid follower of the development of the Xamarin tools. Some year(s) ago I tested out the tools, but was a tad disappointed that it couldn’t do some of the basic mobile app dev tasks I required at that time. Today, their offering is amazing. Not only is it incredibly easy to get up and running – their tools offer an incredibly competitive tool base for developers who live in the C#/.NET world to start creating complex mobile applications, cross-platform.

Recently I’ve moved into the mobile-space a bit myself, using the Xamarin-tools for cross-platform mobile dev, which is why the following announcements from Microsoft and Xamarin are AWESOME.

Announcement: Microsoft and Xamarin Expand Global Partnerships

From the announcement above, the key takeaways as listed are:

  • Xamarin Templates are included in Visual Studio 2015 by default
  • Xamarin Starter Edition will be free for Visual Studio Users
  • Discount on the Premium and Ultimate Xamarin suites if you’re an MSDN subscriber

If I were to put my money somewhere, it’d be on Xamarin. Companies acquire companies all the time, these guys are a good candidate for an acquisition. If they don’t get acquired, they’ll be a key role (which they already are) in the world of mobile development moving forward.

Microsoft .NET goes open source

Free. Cross-platform. Open source. A developer platform for building all your apps.
Over the coming months, we will be open sourcing the full server-side .NET Core stack, from ASP.NET 5 down to the Core Runtime and Framework, and the open source .NET will be expanded to run on Linux and Mac OS X in addition to Windows.

Microsoft has previously open-sourced ASP.NET and the C# compiler and now the full .NET framework stack is to follow suit. If you are a Mono developer, this is great news – Microsoft will be a key player in the aid to make .NET cross-platform.

Starting to love the new Microsoft yet?

Visual Studio Community 2013


Great news followed by great news. This is the new Microsoft I’m talking about. With the recent announcement of a “free Visual Studio”, the Visual Studio Community 2013 is launched.

The key takeaway with the “Free” being this: “Visual Studio Community 2013 is free for any non-enterprise application development

Releasing Visual Studio for free, Windows Azure sites for free and Visual Studio Online for up to 5 users for free – you’ve got everything you will ever need to start professional development (or tinker on your own apps and widgety-hacks).

Here’s a short key-list of things that are free!

Visual Studio

  • Contains all the same features as Visual Studio Professional
  • In non-enterprise organizations you get up to 5 users using Visual Studio Community for free
  • Read more here

Visual Studio Online (Now: GitHub Codespaces)

  • Up to 5 users (type: basic) in VSO
  • Unlimited Git or TFS code repositories
  • Manage your backlogs, requirements, tasks and bugs
  • Visual task boards
  • Build automation with build health reports etc.
  • Read more here

Microsoft Azure

  • Free web sites
  • Free mobile services
  • Full access to Azure Portal for easy management
  • Read more here

What used to be an enterprise-only development experience is now free-for-all to use. Obviously enterprise-class clients still need to pay for their licenses for Visual Studio; An enterprise in this case is an organization with > 250 PC’s or > $1M annual revenue.

Visual Studio 2015


As of November 12th 2014, Visual Studio 2015 (preview) is available for download. There’s some really cool improvements and additions to the toolset. Read about the latest preview here.

I’ve successfully installed Visual Studio 2013 and Visual Studio 2015 (preview) side-by-side and haven’t experienced any problems.

Reportedly, one or two twitter-mentions claims to have bumped into a few problems with a side-by-side installation so I would recommend you to do this with care, if you are doing it on your only workstation.

Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova

Do you remember “Multi-Drive Hybrid Apps for Visual Studio”? Well, it’s commonly known as Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova now and makes it easy to build, debug and test cross-platform apps for Windows, Windows Phone, Android and iOS straight from Visual Studio.

This is going to be baked into the Visual Studio 2015 release, and is already part of the preview.

Read more about Apache Cordova

Visual Studio Emulator for Android

I’m doing quite some mobile development with Xamarin these days; I’ve grown weary of the SDK Emulator for Android (which really sucks). Then came the Genymotion emulator, which is pretty darn awesome. Then came the Xamarin Android Player and now Microsoft announced the Visual Studio Emulator for Android.


Wow. A LOT of things are really happening around with Microsoft, the vision and developer experiences.

Remember “mobile-first & cloud-first”? It’s not just words, you’re seeing it happen. Join the party before the train departures – this is going to be an awesome ride.


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Hi, I'm Tobias! 👋 I write about Microsoft Azure, security, cybersecurity, compliance, cloud architecture, Microsoft 365, and general tech!

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