Blog Post

Will Xcode Be Coming To Windows Soon?

Clearly Apple has shown their affinity for putting software out there for the Windows crowd. To date Apple has produced nearly a half dozen software applications for the Windows platform. These offerings include Quicktime (and the Pro version), iTunes, Software Update, and most recently, Safari. So what is to be Apple’s next foray into the Windows software arena? Let’s take a deeper look at the situation.

With the exception of Quicktime Pro, the software in question is all freely available to Windows users. Offering these programs up with no obligation creates the perfect opportunity for would-be Apple consumers to test the waters and get a feel for what ‘the other half’ are raving about.

iTunes is obviously a companion to the popular iPod music player (though I’m not sure ‘popular’ cuts it with more than 100 million sold in the past 5+ years…), but gives a decent view into the simplicity that the marriage of Apple hardware and software are known for. The iPod has proven to be somewhat of a ‘gateway drug’ in terms of converting users of the mp3 player to Apple computer owners. (see, Halo Effect as a Business Model)

Safari (version 3, beta) was released to the public not quite a month ago on both the OS X and Windows platforms. The Windows version was immediately found to be quite buggy, but was just as quickly patched-up. It is beta software afterall, and that’s the purpose for which it’s been released! But now Windows users fed-up with Internet Explorer can get a taste of the speed and ingenuity that Apple offers in it’s wide array of software products on the Apple platform.

So back to the question at hand: What may be Apple’s next software release for the Windows platform?

The knee-jerk answer might be, “Well iLife of course!” There are however, a couple problems I see with this answer. First off, it costs money. Granted, $79 for the amazing range of functionality and consumer-power-tools that iLife includes (iPhoto, iTunes, iMovie HD, GarageBand, and iWeb) is a steal, but when Windows and 3rd party developer offer similar software on the Windows platform (in many cases, free or nearly so), it may be a hard sell convincing a Windows-user to plunk down the money. The second, and much larger problem, is that iLife is so simple because of it’s tightly-knit connection with the Apple-developed hardware platforms. The user experience is heightened ten-fold when all their hardware works seemlessly with their software. Without direct control over the wide array of hardware that Windows users are working on, iLife may seem more like a black eye than a reason to take the next step into the Apple World.

iWork may be slightly more viable as a Windows software offering from Apple. There’s less hardware integration to hold it back, but it relies quite heavily on Core OS X functionality, not to mention the tie-ins with the iLife apps. The design capabilities are extremely easy and fun to use, but there could be an awful lot lost in translation without the operating system and ‘companion’ applications support found on the OS X platform. Oh, and it’s also $79, so there’s that fiscal barrier-to-entry yet again.

There are a host of other applications that Apple puts out that may be hits on Window as well – Final Cut, Motion, Shake to name a few – but I believe there are three keys to the most plausible answer. The software in question needs:

  1. To be interesting to a large cross-section of the user population
  2. To be free, or nearly so
  3. To create a desire to move to the Apple platform completely

Based on these criteria, I believe Xcode will be the next software offering from Apple for the Windows operating system. Software developers are becoming a dime-a-dozen (not a bad thing, mind you) and the number of Windows devs around must be tremendous. (At WWDC 07 there were many comments about the huge number of developers – new to the platform – that were there.) Xcode is currently offered for free under the Apple Developer Connection, so it wouldn’t require potential developers to ante-up just to see if they liked it. And most importantly, the great tools that Apple builds to hook-into the vast power and functionality of OS X should be a great argument for a developer to make the Switch and pounce on a new Mac.

I realize there are many more requirements behind the scenes for something like Xcode to work as intended, on Windows, but I wouldn’t put it outside Apple’s reach. They’ve shown their desire and commitment to powering their company forward, and I feel Xcode on Windows is the next big step they’ll take in doing so.

40 Responses to “Will Xcode Be Coming To Windows Soon?”

  1. ZeDD2006

    I never got eclipse to work on my mac box. I remember reading a article about steve wanting more applications developed for mac, mainly games, because they rulled the gaming industry before he was kicked out. If xCode was ported to windows, what do you think would happen to the future of games? most companies use Microsucks visual studio to create games, very very few of them dont use it. But if they were given an development suite that runs both on linux, windows AND mac, bam…they just increased there revenue of games, linux users want games. Mac users want games. This is where xcode would be the best solution, either that or microsfot releases visual studio for mac, which i dont see that EVER happening, but i could be wrong. but one the of the 2 need to happen.

  2. VictorTarsus

    I can’t really see Apple releasing Xcode on the Crapdows OS. Besides as mentioned previously, what self respecting Windows Developer want with Xcode? Even if they wanted to get into the development of Software for the Mac, a Mini is by far cheaper than most commercial grade developer geared Windows boxes.

  3. I think the only way Xcode would come to Windows is to support the development of native iPhone apps.

    I have a Windows PC and have an interest in writing apps for the iPhone. I’m not however going to plunk down $1,100 for a MacBook just to write iPhone apps. Apple will need to have a Windows-based IDE (whatever it is) to ensure the widest possible developer base for the iPhone.

  4. Parvenu74

    What would be more compelling to developers: XCode on Windows making applications for Windows and/or Mac OS X, or XCode on Leopard which creates Universal apps which can run on Mac OS, Windows, and possibly even Linux?

    The territory to conquer is the business desktop, and right now I think an impediment to that is Microsoft’s entrenched position with Active Directory and other enterprise/directory management tools. Sure, it sounds nice to start swapping out Macs for aging WinXP boxes, but how will the new Mac boxes fit into the group policy schemes and play well with the prevailing directory management/security scheme?

    Developers are certainly a boon for your platform, but you need to get the network admins on board too, and for that you’ll need to either make Leopard integrate with A/D like it was designed to be a native client, or you’ll need to create an entire enterprise management replacement with a stupid-easy, and error-resistant migration path for enterprises with tens of thousands, if not millions of users.

  5. scott lewis

    As one of the “dime a dozen” Mac developers, I have to say it’s unlikely Xcode for Windows would be released. It’s a good IDE, and I really like most of it, but it is intimately tied to Mac technologies, most notably Obj-C and the Cocoa frameworks. In the Windows world it would compete with quite a few very good IDE’s that already have a good following.

    I think every Mac developer keeps hoping Apple will release a version of Xcode that would allow cross-platform compilation, so that the code we write for Macs would work under Windows as well. This also seems unlikely due to a large number of issues.

    I think all us developers continue to hope Apple will unlock the iPhone to some degree in 2008. That’s our best chance to reach a wider market with our expertise.

  6. Halfactivist

    I don’t think Xcode will be released for Windows,
    no, i don’t even think it exists.
    This is a dream since the cancellation of Yellow Box for Windows.
    Xcode is an *step based application, but none of QT for Windows, Safari for Windows, iTunes (even fo osx) are.
    So, if apple had Yellow Box for windows still alive somewhere, I think they’d use it for their software…but they don’t.
    Therefore, they’d need to recreate an Aqua looking application for Xcode like they did for Safari?
    But, that’d suppose there is no cocoa etc for Windows? So what would be the point of Xcode for Windows?

    Anyway, creating Xcode for Windows wouldn’t serve Mac OS X, because that would mean that Windows centered developers would develop Windows centered applications that would also run on Mac OS X because their original focus is Windows.

    If it really happens, then that would mean Steve Jobs and consorts have decided they have definitely lost the software game they started with NeXT.

  7. Maybe Apple should just put the source code (or as much as it legally can) for Xcode under the GPL instead of porting it, then just stand back and see what the developers do. It may be ported to Windows, it may not. The worst I see happening is that developers have more control of their tools.

  8. Richard Hyde

    I think Andre is right, the next thing we’ll see from Apple for Windows is iChat. It would be free, include most of the new effects from the new Leopard which where demoed at the WWDC and, most importantly, be released the same time as iChat for iPhone.

    “You want to IM from your iPhone, sure use just get your mates to install iChat for Windows”. It’s a shame that the iPhone is missing a front camera for video calls, please Mr Jobs can you add one along with 3G for the European version?

  9. The applications Apple has brought to Windows are there only because it gets people using Apple hardware. iTunes is there because of the iPod, and so is QuickTime (even though QuickTime has been available for Windows for a long time, I’d argue that the only reason it’s there now is for iTunes movie/video codecs, namely h.264). Plus, Xcode 3.0 has been rewritten using Obj-C 2.0, which is Cocoa-exclusive. The reasons Apple hasn’t ported Cocoa to Windows have been listed in many more places than one. And the iPhone certainly isn’t going to influence Apple to bring Xcode to Windows either: it’s OS X at heart.

  10. Umm… nop, don’t think so.

    While I choose to live the Apple Life ™ at home, I get to live the life of a .NET developer during the day. Xcode, while nice, doesn’t yet compare to the Visual Studio ecology… It’s very easy feature-rich, and dammit — kinda addictive.

    That said… I’m eagerly awaiting Xcode 3.0.

    • Wrong again, Visual Studio is too much proprietary and based on proprietary technologies, and it nearly uses 1.5GB of disk if you install C++, C# and the Web IDE. That is too much for an IDE! And if you notice it, Visual Studio always crashes whenever you’ve been developing with it for two hours, isn’t it a little strange?

  11. Hydraulix

    People! If anyone is familiar with pre-Mac OS X before Apple bought the OS from NEXT. NEXT’s development environment was running on Windows and creating Windows applications.

    Just like when Apple acquired the NEXT OS, turned it into Mac OS X, and kept an Intel version going behind the scenes; it’s also very possible that Apple has continued to update the development tools to continue work in a Windows environment. In fact, it was the original plan to keep having Windows applications, but was nixed because Microsoft might perceive it as a threat. Back then Apple really needed Microsoft to keep updating MS Office and Internet Explorer. So Apple was playing very nice. But times have changed and I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple still has the ability to easily do it if they choose to.

    “NeXT partnered with Sun Microsystems to create OpenStep, which was NeXTSTEP without the Mach-based Unix kernel. When it was founded, NeXT originally intended to sell a toolkit running on top of other operating systems, but ventured into hardware instead. After dropping their hardware business, NeXT returned to selling a toolkit to run on other OSes. New products based on OpenStep continued to ship, including OpenStep Enterprise, a version that ran on Microsoft’s Windows NT.”

  12. Scottle

    There’s a bigger problem that everyone’s missing: Xcode isn’t particularly good.

    It would not fare well in direct comparison to various Windows development tools. The compile time is abysmal compared to some. The debugger is barely functional. I mean, come on.

  13. Cliff

    It doesn’t make sense to have X-code on Windows platform. About development tool, it is more likely Apple will release a AJAX Dev kit for both Mac and Windows. It can get more developers to build Web2.0 apps for iPhone, testing on Safari, and more likely the look and feel is very close to X-Code so that it’s easier for developers to foretaste how does it feel like to develop Mac software using X-code in future.

    My best guess the next software Apple will release is iChat for Windows. Just imagine how nice iPhone can video conference with PC (Mac/PC), at the same time enhance its inherent selling value compare with other competitors.

  14. ScienceMan

    It already has been done — and is called “Eclipse.” Have any doubts? Then consider that WebObjects support is being withdrawn for XCode in Leopard and beyond, and go learn about WOLips. Then think for a while.

    • You are joking aren’t you? Eclipse is not an alternative for nothing… All it does is to eat 100MB of your memory every minute… Also as an java IDE, there is a lot better (even netbeans is better), because if you must say building an IDE that gets everything through plugins, is not a smart idea.

  15. Matt J

    No. Xcode is there to make it easy to develop high quality Mac apps, without buying an expensive development suite, and hence, cause more people to develop for the Mac. Why would Apple want to make developing for Windows easier? They might have an internal version of Xcode for Windows (but I doubt it), but Apple would never release one publicly.

  16. vanfruniken

    The fact remains that Apple does already have an environment with which it has developed such things as QuickTime, iTunes and Safari (forget about AppleWorks, because that is legacy software).

    Would they be willing to release it to developers on the Windows platform, and what would be the most interesting proposition: when intended target apps are for the Mac or for the PC?

  17. Yeah, sorry – I’m with Tyler and Jason on this one. Your reasoning seems a bit flawed. Tyler hit the nail on the head – why develop on an OS that you can’t test your apps on? Who says Apple HAS to release another windows app anyway?

  18. This seems extremely unlikely, given the fact that a development environment would be useless without the ability to compile and test the software that you are writing. Unless Apple ports their runtime environment (Cocoa, Carbon, etc.) to Windows, which I don’t see happening, then a release of XCode on Windows would be really pointless.

  19. Andrew

    Final Cut and Shake are really there to push the hardware just as much as software sales. Look at Apples profit charts, software is a very slim margin compared to macs and ipods. This is always brought up when people bring up the osx licensing idea every now and again

  20. I see. But then, the reasonable approach for a wannabe developer is to get a Mac– and a Mini would do fine. After all, what developer doesn’t have old display/mouse/keyboards lying around? One of the nice things about Apple’s development tools is that they are relatively lightweight (compared, e.g., with MS Visual Whatever). This, btw, is why I think the Mini will survive, despite recent rumors to the contrary. It’s ideal for the impoverished developer.

  21. Matt – sorry, no. Apple would be releasing Xcode on Windows to allow for a way to develop Apple software from the Windows environment – as a way to pique the interest of developer snd prompt them to make the switch.

  22. This seems extremely unlikely, unless I’m misunderstanding. -Apple- producing a -free- development environment for -Windows- software? Putting aside the technical issues (Objective-C for Windows? .NET vs. Cocoa?), this would put Apple software in direct, head-to-head competition with a core Microsoft product. Bad idea. Don’t hold your breath.