Microsoft, Now Buying Xamarin, Kills Android/Windows Bridge Project

Just to put the official nail in the coffin of Project Astoria, Microsoft announced it really is killing the Android/Windows bridge project in light of its acquisition of cross-platform toolmaker Xamarin. The iOS bridge project is being kept alive and is progressing.

"We received a lot of feedback that having two Bridge technologies to bring code from mobile operating systems to Windows was unnecessary, and the choice between them could be confusing," Microsoft exec Kevin Gallo said in a blog post yesterday. "We have carefully considered this feedback and decided that we would focus our efforts on the Windows Bridge for iOS and make it the single Bridge option for bringing mobile code to all Windows 10 devices, including Xbox and PCs. For those developers who spent time investigating the Android Bridge, we strongly encourage you to take a look at the iOS Bridge and Xamarin as great solutions."

This news, buried toward the bottom of the blog post, wasn't unexpected in light of problems with Project Astoria revealed last fall.

"We're committed to offering developers many options to bring their apps to the Windows Platform, including bridges available now for Web and iOS, and soon Win32," said a Microsoft spokesperson in a released statement at that time. "The Astoria bridge is not ready yet, but other tools offer great options for developers. For example, the iOS bridge enables developers to write a native Windows Universal app which calls UWP APIs directly from Objective-C, and to mix and match UWP and iOS concepts such as XAML and UIKit."

That announcement fueled widespread speculation that Astoria wasn't long for this world, and the Xamarin acquisition probably removed any doubt that might have remained before Gallo put it all to rest.

Project Astoria, first announced at last year's Build conference, was part of the company's "Bridges" strategy to easily port Android apps -- a strategy that also included projects to port HTML/JavaScript, .NET and Win32, Java/C+ + and Objective-C apps to its latest mobile offering.

Gallo provided updates on those projects:

  • The Web Bridge (Hosted Web Apps) helps bring HTML and JavaScript Web-based apps to the Windows Store and takes advantage of the capabilities of the Windows platform, such as Live Tiles, Cortana integration, in-app purchase capabilities and more. This shipped as part of the standard Windows 10 SDK in July and we've already seen adoption from companies such as Shazam and Yahoo.
  • Project "Centennial" helps bring existing Win32 and .NET-based apps to the Windows Store and is in testing with a set of developers now. We'll have an early iteration of the tools soon, and then we'll expand the program and support a broader range of developers.
  • The Windows Bridge for iOS (project "Islandwood"), enables developers to bring Objective-C iOS apps to the Windows Store, was released to GitHub as an open source project in August and we've been releasing updates to it frequently. Just last week, we released an update which included the first ARM32 preview compiler drop.

"The philosophy behind the Bridges has always been to make it as easy as possible for you to bring existing code to Windows, and our investments in the iOS Bridge will make this straightforward," Gallo said. "We initially focused on API coverage for game developers, but we are expanding our API coverage for all app types by adding support for additional frameworks, etc. We're aiming for significant development cost savings for the majority of 'typical' apps -- keep an eye on the project on GitHub, and of course we welcome direct contributions, helping us all out!"

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.