Microsoft had already debuted the Customer Preview version of its new Office productivity suite "Office 2013," today, the Beta of the new "Office Store" is also made available online.
The new Office Store is built to integrate Office and SharePoint 2013 with the "very best of the web", and offers new opportunity for app developers to earn money. The focus is also "on making it really easy to get, install and use apps."
"In the Insert tab of the ribbon choose "Apps for Office" and you'll see apps from the Office Store. All apps that are listed on the Store get extensively validated so users can trust them," Microsoft stated. Apps included in the Office Store will be targeted at the next version of Office (Excel, Outlook, Word) and SharePoint, and will be available for all those who purchase the suite.
You can also find apps from the Office Store, and add them to your "my apps" list. Apps from the Store are highly discoverable right from the Office Ribbon and from SharePoint Sites.
"When you go to the store and provide your Microsoft account, any app that you install will be associated with your account and those apps will be available anywhere you run Office. It's all registered on the server and all your apps will roam with you. This means that anywhere you go, you'll always have your apps available. Just log-in to Office, and when you click on the "insert app" button, you're apps will all be there," Vivek Narasimhan, product manager, SharePoint, notes.
"With over a billion people using Microsoft Office the developer opportunity is huge," he said.
For those, who have downloaded the Office 2013 Preview, can try the apps today. "All you need is a Microsoft account and the preview version of Office, SharePoint or Exchange."
Microsoft has also added built-in powerful controls in the Office Store that allow an administrator to control access by using customizable purchase workflows. Additionally, the Office Store also has an internal distribution mechanism in SharePoint called the "App Catalog" that allows enterprise users to build in-house apps or source them from partners and distribute them to employees within the organization.
"Organizations can also setup their private "App Catalog" to distribute and manage business critical apps internally."
But the nice thing about the App Catalog for users is that it's also integrated right from within the Office Ribbon or the SharePoint Sites. As a result, "users can access apps distributed by their organizations, or available from the Office Store, in a pretty easy and consistent manner," he said.
For developers, the launch of Office Store means new options when it comes to distributing productivity apps (or other software) that users need.
- "In order to upload an app onto the Office Store, you would navigate to the Seller Dashboard. Here you can create a great looking public developer profile, upload apps, create app detail pages, set a price for your app and decide how you want to get paid."
- The lifecycle for an app is easily managed from the Seller Dashboard. You can see how your app is faring (page views, downloads of trials (or free versions) and purchases).
- Licensing framework is designed with cloud apps in mind, "where protecting the bits is not as important as protecting the content of the app."p bits. A licensing framework optimized for services would fix this issue.
- "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," Narasimhan explained.
- Microsoft will retain 20% from net proceedings on every transaction. "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," Narasimhan concludes.
You can check out the Office Store by using your Microsoft Account and running Office 2013 Customer Preview and visiting the Office Store at http://officepreview.microsoft.com/store.
Here are a couple of video demonstrating the features: