In a significant shift in strategy, Microsoft announced on August 30, 2023, that they are retiring their Visual Studio for Mac IDE (Integrated Development Environment). The support for Visual Studio for Mac 17.6 will remain in place for another 12 months, concluding on August 31, 2024. During this period, Microsoft plans to continue rolling out servicing updates, addressing security concerns and keeping the platform compatible with updates from Apple.

What’s Driving the Change?

Microsoft stated that the move is informed by continuous user feedback and observed usage patterns. The company is shifting its focus toward optimizing Visual Studio through Microsoft Dev Box for all operating systems, as well as enhancing the C# Dev Kit for Visual Studio Code (VS Code). This appears to be a strategic decision to steer developers toward more flexible and cross-platform-friendly environments.

Implications for Existing Users

For current users of Visual Studio for Mac, this announcement signals a change but not necessarily a disruption. Microsoft will not add any new framework, runtime, or language support to the IDE. However, the company will continue to roll out essential updates for critical bug fixes and security issues for the next 12 months.

Alternative Paths

The retirement of Visual Studio for Mac does open up a variety of alternative routes for developers:

  • VS Code with C# Dev Kit and Related Extensions: This new kit, along with extensions for .NET MAUI and Unity, can serve as capable replacements. They operate natively on macOS, allowing for a smooth transition.
  • Visual Studio IDE on a Windows VM on Mac: This option provides broad IDE support and can be particularly useful for those who require legacy project support for Xamarin, F#, and iOS development.
  • Visual Studio IDE on a Cloud-hosted VM: If you’d prefer to avoid the overhead of running a virtual machine locally, Microsoft Dev Box offers cloud-based solutions.

Final Thoughts

Although the sunset of Visual Studio for Mac may evoke mixed emotions among its user base, Microsoft’s strategic pivot toward more flexible, cross-platform solutions is a reflection of broader trends in the software development world. As we bid farewell to this particular IDE, new and exciting opportunities for macOS developers are already emerging on the horizon.