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Microsoft's .NET for Android - dubbed MonoDroid - has come a step closer.

The Novell-backed MonoTouch project is about to start beta tests of a version of its open-source implementation of Microsoft's framework for use on Google's Linux operating system for devices.

Final product for MonoDroid is expected in the fall, Novell Mono product manager Joseph Hill told The Reg – around the time of the next installment in Microsoft's Windows phone story: Windows Phone 7, due in October.

Hill said interest from developers in MonoTouch on Android has grown to the point where Novell thinks it's finally time to justify porting the code.

The idea behind MonoTouch for Android is Windows Phone programmers can potentially cut down the work involved in porting their mobile apps to yet another non-Microsoft platform. MonoTouch for Android follows in the mechanized footsteps of MonoTouch for Apple's iPhone and iPad.

"You won't be able to share everything, but you can share business logic and take applications to this new platform. It's compelling when you think about Windows Phone 7 is around the corner," Hill said.

MonoTouch for the iPhone and iPad lets Microsoft coders build using C# and .NET APIs and bindings, with a static compiler turning .NET executables and libraries into native applications. MonoTouch was built for touch-based smartphone apps, and came out of the existing Mono Project started by Miguel de Icaza to put .NET on Unix and Linux.

Novell, meanwhile, is today expected to announce availability of an updated version of its Mono Tools plug in to Microsoft's Visual Studio IDE.

Mono Tools for Visual Studio 2.0 now works on the Mac and non-x86 architectures such as PowerPC and 390x with the addition of a completely new soft debugger replacing the earlier hard debugger that only worked on Linux. The suite has also been updated to work with Visual Studio 2010, so also runs on Windows, and works with Red Hat Linux packages.

Mono Tools for Visual Studio 2.0 comes as a Professional Edition priced $99 for individuals, Enterprise Edition for one developer in an organization priced $249, and Ultimate Edition for $2,499 that includes a limited commercial license to redistribute Mono on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X and comes with five enterprise developer licenses.

All versions include a one-year subscription for product updates. ®

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