Microsoft's Vivek Narasimhan announced on Monday that the Office Store is now officially open. This means users with a Microsoft account and a copy of Office 2013 Preview or SharePoint can search for, discover and install apps within the suite. App developers are also now encouraged to "repackage" their existing solutions or create something entirely new "that delivers real user value" for the Office environment.
"We know our users spend an incredible amount of time using the Microsoft Office suite," Narasimhan said. "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."
As an example, Outlook 2013 users shouldn't need anther application for more information when a part number or address is received via email. Even more, users should be able to see information like LinkedIn details or a sales history attached to the contact's name. Ultimately users should be able to interact with and take action on these other applications right from within the Office clients, he said.
To get and install apps, users simply hit the Insert tab on the ribbon and choose "Apps for Office" -- this will pull up apps from the Office Store. Here users can learn more about apps (read reviews, details etc), acquire them (free or premium), and use them immediately after installation. All apps listed in the Office Store are "extensively validated," he said.
"Since these apps are all based on web-standards, they load straight away – there’s no need for IT to pre-load them," he said. "If you use a new machine, just sign-in with your Microsoft account and all your apps will be there. Best of all, when you send a document that was created using an app (like an infographic in an Excel spreadsheet), a reference to it travels with the document so the recipient can start using that app too."
So what kind of apps work with Office 2013 Preview? The latest featured apps include LinkedIn for Outlook, the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Twitter, Bing News Search, eFax App for Word, Factiva and more. Apps can also be discovered by the four main Office 2013 clients: Excel, Word, Outlook and SharePoint.
"With over a billion people using Microsoft Office the developer opportunity is huge," he said. "This is an opportunity to reach out with tailored solutions for specific verticals from Manufacturing to Legal, or with enhanced tools from scheduling to collaboration, or with those apps that everyone wants from maps to weather."