Microsoft has been on a roll as the year kicked off with a lot happening on the Windows 8 front. The software maker has now announced the launch of a dedicated store for Microsoft Office 2013, as disclosed in its official blog. The Office Store will work just as the Windows Store for the upcoming Metro-based operating system and allow app developers to create and distribute apps designed particularly for Office 2013. The Office 2013 Preview was recently made available for download.
With this move, Microsoft aims at making it simpler to get, install and use apps. On choosing “Apps for Office” from the Insert Tab, users can view all apps from Office Store. Here users can learn more about apps in the store, read reviews, acquire or buy apps, and also start using them right away. The apps listed on the Store get extensively validated so that users can trust them. Since these apps are all based on web-standards, they load straightaway. There is no need to pre-load them. On using a new machine, the user has to simply sign-in with their Microsoft account and all apps will be loaded.
The blog states, “Think of how much time you spend reading through email, writing reports, analyzing data, preparing sales figures or sharing proposals with your team. We also know that many critical tools and many critical information sources live on the web or in applications outside of Office. We’ve built the store so you could integrate the very best of the web with the powerful features of Office and SharePoint. With over a billion people using Microsoft Office the developer opportunity is huge. Whether the app is focused on content management, data visualization, financial management, project management, sales & marketing, HR, education, travel, social…(The list really does go on and on!) there are an incredible number of individuals or teams who are looking for solutions to meet those needs.”
The blog further discloses that developers can submit apps, reach a huge audience, make money and continually enhance the app. Developers can upload apps through the Seller Dashboard. Here they can create a great looking public developer profile, upload apps, create app detail pages, set a price for the app and decide how to get paid. These apps published to the Office Store will pass through extensive checks to filter out malicious and inappropriate content. It also talks about managing apps. The lifecycle for an app is easily managed from the Seller Dashboard and developers can rollout upgrades and existing users will get notified through an in-app notification. The upgrade process touts to be seamless for users, no downloading a new installable and the cloud app model is designed for ease of upgrades.
The licensing framework has been designed with cloud apps in mind. “We had to design a licensing framework that supported two scenarios; protect apps sold through the Office Store while still allow side loading of organizational apps. We realized that there was no single enforcement mechanism that would work for all apps (each app is unique) so we instead created an opt-in framework that apps sold through the Office Store can leverage. It gives developers the ability to include code in their apps to enforce their legal use. The app license framework itself does not enforce app licenses; it provides APIs and services to retrieve, verify, and then act on license information. The Office Store will allow you to upload free, paid, and trial apps. If you plan to sell your app or offer it as a trial, you can build logic in your app that uses the licensing framework to determine whether a user has a valid license for the app, and give access to app features based on the license properties.”
Finally, talking about monetizing, Microsoft says that it will retain 20 percent from its net proceedings on every transaction. “We aren’t new to the business of running an online store. There are many stores run by Microsoft and hence we leverage a lot of the same payment systems already in place. As a developer this means you can be paid in many different currencies and payout markets similar to the coverage Microsoft provides for the Windows Phone Marketplace and the Windows 8 store. Your users will buy in confidence from the Microsoft Office store using their Microsoft account. If they’ve bought an app before on Windows 8, Windows Phone or Xbox, their credit card will already be on file. If you do have eCommerce infrastructure on your site and wish to sell through your own site, that’s fine too,” the blog added.