Microsoft Retires Visual Studio for Mac

Prioritizing Windows Ecosystem Developers

8/30/20233 min read

person sitting in front of computer
person sitting in front of computer

Microsoft has made a tough but necessary decision to discontinue Visual Studio for Mac, aligning with its long-term strategy. The focus is now on optimizing the development experience for Windows developers by refining and enhancing their flagship IDE. This realignment is intended to ensure unparalleled productivity. As macOS became increasingly popular among developers, there was a high demand for a comprehensive Visual Studio experience on the platform. Microsoft had the perfect chance to capitalize on this opportunity, but unfortunately, the Visual Studio for Mac IDE failed to meet users' expectations, leaving them unsatisfied and wanting more.

When it comes to macOS development, Xcode has been the go-to IDE. However, it has its shortcomings. Many developers have expressed disappointment with Xcode, citing a lack of functionalities and a less-than-intuitive user interface. This creates an opening for Microsoft to step in and offer a compelling alternative.

Rider, an IDE developed by JetBrains, has gained significant traction among developers due to its similarity to Visual Studio. With its familiar look and feel, Rider has become the platform for those seeking a seamless transition from Visual Studio to macOS development. Its robust feature set and intuitive UI have won the hearts of users.

To cater to developers seeking a versatile and efficient development tool, Microsoft encourages the exploration of Visual Studio Code. It is a lightweight yet powerful alternative that ensures an enhanced development workflow. Visual Studio Code provides an exceptional cross-platform development experience, maintaining seamless operability on macOS and delivering superior flexibility and extensibility.

In light of the retirement, some might argue that Visual Studio Code (VS Code), with its C# plugin, could serve as a substitute for an IDE. However, this perspective fails to acknowledge the true essence of an IDE and the unique capabilities it offers. Despite a powerful text editor, VS Code cannot replicate the comprehensive toolset and efficiency of a complete IDE. Mac developers deserve more than just a plugin; they deserve a fully tailored development environment that caters to their needs.

While the retirement of Visual Studio for Mac may feel like a setback, it also presents an opportunity for Mac developers to explore new avenues and discover alternative tools that cater to their needs. Although no single replacement can fully replicate Visual Studio, several options deserve consideration:

  • Xamarin Studio: Xamarin Studio, recently acquired by Microsoft, provides a robust development environment for cross-platform application development with its Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android frameworks, Mac developers can seamlessly create native mobile applications for iOS and Android, all within a Mac-centric IDE.

    • Pros: Xamarin Studio offers an intuitive user interface, extensive debugging capabilities, and seamless integration with other Microsoft tools.

    • Cons: Limited support for non-mobile development languages and frameworks.

  • JetBrains Rider: Explicitly designed for macOS, JetBrains Rider is gaining popularity among Mac developers for its powerful features and native compatibility. Its advanced code analysis, intelligent refactorings, and deep integrations with popular frameworks make it a compelling choice.

    • Pros: Rich feature set, excellent performance, and compatibility with various programming languages and frameworks.

    • Cons: A paid license required for full access to all features.

  • Visual Studio Code: Despite its limitations as a text editor, it remains a popular choice among developers due to its extensive extensibility and vast ecosystem of plugins. Mac developers can tailor their development environment to suit their needs by combining the power of VS Code with language-specific plugins.

    • Pros: Highly customizable, extensive plugin support, and consistent updates from the VS Code community.

    • Cons: It still lacks some features in a dedicated IDE and may require additional setup and configuration.

Many people use VS Code because it can be used on multiple platforms. Unlike Visual Studio for Mac, which only works on Macs, VS Code can be used on Windows, macOS, and Linux. This makes it easy for developers to use different operating systems without having to give up their productivity or familiarity.

One of the best things about using VS Code is the large number of extensions available. Developers can find extensions for their preferred programming languages, frameworks, and tools. Whether you're using JavaScript, Python, or another language, there's likely an extension that can help you work more efficiently. With so many options, the VS Code extension library is a vibrant community that encourages ongoing development and improvement.

However, none of this is a replacement for a dedicated IDE.