Microsoft offers Windows developers a bridge to Apple iOS

The WinObjC library provides a way to port Apple iOS applications to Windows, and to write iOS apps with Visual Studio

In the new release of Team Foundation Server, Microsoft added the ability to make a quick edit to a file in version control directly from your web browser and then commit those changes straight back to the service.

In the new release of Team Foundation Server, Microsoft added the ability to make a quick edit to a file in version control directly from your web browser and then commit those changes straight back to the service.

Having promised developers to be less Windows-centric and more cross platform friendly, Microsoft has released software that helps programmers more easily bridge the divide between Apple applications and Windows applications.

The Windows Bridge for iOS, now available as a preview on GitHub, is designed to make it easy to port applications written for Apple iOS devices so that they run on Microsoft Windows computers.

The library, abbreviated as WinObjC, will also ease the process of developing iOS applications on Windows machines.

"Microsoft's move here illustrates that the only serious way to engage developers today is with open source," noted Al Hilwa, IDC program director for enterprise software development.

"While the project is aimed at converting iOS apps to Windows Universal apps, the full effort is really about appealing to Objective-C developers in general, which is now a sizeable ecosystem," Hilwa wrote in an e-mail.

Objective-C was, until recently, the primary language developers used for building iOS applications. Apple is now also encouraging developers to use its recently introduced Swift programming language as well.

The Microsoft package includes a compiler, an Objective-C runtime, a library for running iOS application programming interface (API) calls, and a set of tools for integrating WinObjC into the Microsoft Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE).

Ultimately, the WinObjC library will be included in future editions of Microsoft Visual Studio, according to a technical deep dive offered in a blog post by Salmaan Ahmed, Microsoft program manager for WinObjC.

The company is also working on a similar bridge for Android devices, though that software, code-named Project Astoria, is available as a preview only for selected parties, according to the Microsoft blog post announcing WinObjC .

Microsoft has been busy keeping its developer tools up to date.

On Thursday, the company released the newest version of Team Foundation Server, its source code management system for developer teams.

Team Foundation Server 2015 comes with a new build automation system, browser-based code editing capabilities, and support for Kanban board-based development.

The company also announced general availability of the Azure Data Factory, which is a cloud-based data integration service, and Microsoft Identity Manager 2016, a cloud-based access management service.

Also newly released is SQL Server 2016 Community Technical Preview 2.2, which comes with new advances in security policies, as well as fresh data management and reporting services.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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