Microsoft has announced the retirement of its Integrated Development Environment (IDE), Visual Studio for Mac. The support for the final release, Visual Studio for Mac 17.6, will continue until August 31, 2024. This decision comes despite the software receiving consistent updates in the recent past.
Why Microsoft Kills Visual Studio for Mac
Visual Studio for Mac faced challenges in its development journey. Efforts to bring the IDE at par with its Windows counterpart were ongoing for years. The team behind the software tried to address performance and reliability issues that dated back to 2018. These challenges led to the decision of replacing the IDE's editor internals with Visual Studio for Windows code and abandoning the Mono runtime for .NET 6 early last year. Despite these efforts, Microsoft has now decided to shift its focus to other alternatives.
In the official announcement on their developer blog, Anthony Cangialosi, Group Product Manager at Microsoft's Developer Division, stated, “With today's announcement, we're redirecting our resources and focus to enhance Visual Studio and VS Code, optimizing them for cross-platform development.”
He further clarified that no new framework, runtime, or language support would be added to Visual Studio for Mac. However, for the next 12 months, Microsoft will continue to provide essential updates, including servicing updates for critical bug fixes, security issues, and platform updates from Apple.
Alternatives to Visual Studio for Mac
For developers who have been using Visual Studio for Mac, Microsoft recommends several alternatives:
- Visual Studio Code with Extensions: Microsoft suggests using the C# Dev Kit, .NET MAUI, and Unity Extensions for VS Code. These extensions are designed to enhance the capabilities of VS Code for .NET and C# developers and are available across all supported platforms, including macOS.
- Visual Studio IDE on VM: Developers can run the Visual Studio IDE on Windows using a virtual machine (VM) on macOS. This option caters to a broader range of IDE needs, including support for Xamarin, F#, and remote iOS development experiences.
- Cloud-based VM: Another alternative is using a cloud-hosted VM from Microsoft Dev Box. This provides access to the full capabilities of Visual Studio through a web or native RDP client from a Mac, eliminating the need to run a VM locally.
While the retirement of Visual Studio for Mac marks the end of an era, Microsoft remains committed to supporting developers on the Mac platform. The company is keen on gathering feedback to shape its future investments in tools like the C# Dev Kit, .NET MAUI, Unity Extensions for VS Code, and Microsoft Dev Box.