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Why Microsoft Opening Up Visual Studio to the Mac Matters

Why Microsoft Opening Up Visual Studio to the Mac Matters

Give Microsoft credit for announcing what they're going to do, then doing it -- or at least planning on doing it, if the website hijinks of Monday, November 14, are any indication. Today, briefly, a page went live announcing that Visual Studio would be made available for the Mac platform. This is a big deal because it's one more sign that Microsoft is pushing its constellation of products and services away from a Windows-centric world.

Platform agnosticism -- the notion that it should not matter which OS your software runs on, it just matters that you can work on whatever device or machine you need to -- is everywhere, especially in the development community. When Microsoft bought Xamarin Studio, they were buying into that idea. In practical terms, if Microsoft's got a built-in audience of people who were used to Xamarin, then that helps Microsoft expand its mobile apps space; the developers can more easily write something that works in macOS/iOS and Windows.

But the long-term play here is not "We'll fool people into developing for Windows." The long-term play is the same one that's been articulated in earnings calls and even keynotes: Microsoft is moving away from the desktop operating system as the driver of its revenue and the font of its ingenuity. It's going all-in on a business model where user adoption is predicated on cloud and mobile use, not desktop share.

And on Wednesday -- when we're likely to see that yanked page back up -- we'll see if Microsoft sticks to the message they've been sending: Platforms are merely a detail in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.

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