Microsoft veteran Tim Sneath joins Google to work on a competitor to Xamarin

Laurent Giret

Tim Sneath, a longtime Microsoft employee well known to conference goers and the tech press, has announced this week that he’s joining Google. In a blog post published yesterday, the Microsoft veteran said that he’ll be working on a promising mobile app SDK called Flutter.

Sneath joined Microsoft in 2000 and has helped building high-producitivy tools for developers. While the tech veteran says that Microsoft is an “amazing company” where he had a great time working on Windows, Sliverlight and Visual Studio, his lengthy blog post also highlights some of the company’s missteps with developers. According to him, it all started during the development of Windows Vista.

“Distracted by the engineering challenges of delivering “Longhorn” (Windows Vista), Microsoft failed to adjust rapidly to the new competitive threats posed by the rise of the standards-based web and the resurgence of Apple and the iPhone,” Sneath explained. In the following years, developers started to look elsewhere while Microsoft was figuring out what to do with its various developer tools. “When “Metro” (UWP) was introduced as a reset for the Windows API, leaving behind the massive existing Windows XP and Windows 7 user base in pursuit of an unproven new touch-centric UI, developers largely shrugged and continued down the paths they had already chosen,” added the former Microsoft employee.

Last year, Microsoft acquired Xamarin’s cross-platform development software, hoping to stay relevant with developers creating apps for iOS, Android and Windows. This was one of the most promising acquisitions Microsoft did in recent years, but this wasn’t enough to woo Sneath.

Speaking about Flutter, which is still in alpha stage but already being used by Google and others in production environment, Sneath said that this was ‘ the real deal.’ “The ability to write an app that runs on both iOS and Android, with one code base, without compromise, using a highly productive language and set of libraries — it’s a compelling value proposition,” he explained.

Microsoft still owns some of the most popular and versatile developer tools on the market, but the competition from Google is becoming very real. “While it’s still very early days, the team are onto something big,” Smith explained. “They have hit a sweet spot of productivity and power, and have the momentum and backing to be successful.”