Just over a week after reports that Attachmate/Novell was axing the team that developed the Mono open-source implementation of .Net, Miguel de Icaza announced plans to keep the technology alive via a new startup, Xamarin.
De Icaza blogged on May 16 about the creation of Xamarin and its charter. De Icaza, the founder of the Mono project, said his new company will be building a new commercial .NET offering for iOS; building a new commercial .NET offering for Android; and contributing, maintaining and developing the open source Mono and Moonlight components. Xamarin also will be exploring "the Moonlight opportunities in the mobile space and the Mac appstore," de Icaza said. (Moonlight is an open-source implementation of Silverlight.)
"Development started early this morning," de Icaza posted on May 16. "We will first deliver the iPhone stack, followed by the Android stack, and then the Moonlight ports to both platforms."
"The new versions of .NET for the iPhone and Android will be source compatible with MonoTouch and Mono for Android," he said. "Like those versions, they will be commercial products, built on top of the open core Mono." (De Icaza and his team built the MonoTouch products while working for Novell.)
"They (Novell) own the proprietary stacks, the stuff we have to rebuild; The rest is community-owned under open source licenses," de Icaza explained to me on Monday.
De Icaza noted that he and his team had been attempting to spin Mono off from Novell for more than a year, but the plan was never executed. On May 2, Attachmate/Novell laid off the Canadian and American Mono teams, with the European, Brazilian and Japanese teams getting the axe a few days later. De Icaza said his last day at Novell was Friday, May 13. He said that the new Xamarin team has angel funding, as well as "a couple of engineering contracts that will help us stay together as a team while we ship our revenue generating products."
Microsoft's relationship with the Mono team has been up and down over the years. Microsoft officials have pointed to Mono as evidence that its Silverlight and .Net platforms had legs beyond Windows.
I asked Microsoft whether it was providing any financial backing or any other support to the Xamarin team and have yet to hear back.
Attachmate bought Novell in April, and more than 800 of Novell's patents were purchased by CPTN Holdings, an entity comprised of Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and EMC.