The ability to write software code once and run it anywhere has been a regular fixture of the personal computing industry, from the early days of Microsoft p-code, Sun's Java, and of course .NET. But with popular mobile app platforms like Android and iOS threatening Windows, developers face considerable hurdles porting their apps between each platform. But a new Xamarin initiative seeks to put a stop to that.

Xamarin played a role in the keynote at the Visual Studio 2013 launch event today, at which Microsoft announced an important partnership with the firm that will bring Xamarin's cross-platform prowess to developers on the Microsoft stack. What this basically means is developers familiar with Visual Studio and C# will be able to easily and inexpensively use the best developer IDE and programming language available to write apps that run natively on Windows, iOS and Android.

Why is this a big deal? Microsoft developers currently use languages like C# with Windows Runtime or .NET APIs in Visual Studio, but need to learn new languages (Objective-C, Java), APIs/SDKs (iOS SDK, Android SDK) and developer environments (Xcode, Eclipse) in order to create apps for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch) and Android devices. The difference between all these things is staggering.

This new partnership spans the following three areas:

Technical collaboration. Microsoft will work with Xamarin to make Xamarin's tools and services better integrated into Visual Studio. So Xamarin immediately supports the just-released Visual Studio 2013, and today Xamarin provided integration for Microsoft's Portable Library projects in iOS and Android apps, which it says will make it easier than ever for developers to share code across devices.

Xamarin University. Starting in January, MSDN subscribers will get free access to Xamarin University, Xamarin's online training course for building native iOS, Android, and Windows apps with C# in just 30 days. This course is normally $1995, though there are a limited number of seats, so you should sign up soon if you're an interested MSDN subscriber.

Xamarin subscription deals. MSDN subscribers also gain exclusive trial and pricing options for Xamarin for Visual Studio for individuals and teams. The individual version is $1399 (normally $1998), and the team version is $9,900 (normally $18,990).

Xamarin claims 440,000 developers in 70 countries, with more than 20,000 paying accounts and a network of over 120 consulting partners globally.

If you'd like to learn more about this initiative, Xamarin will be hosting a free web seminar on Tuesday, December 10 at 8 am PT/11 am ET. You can sign up for Native App Development for iOS, Android, and Windows in Visual Studio on the Xamarin web site.