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Microsoft Readies Office Store for Subscriptions

Microsoft has taken a key step toward letting SharePoint and Office customers purchase apps on a usage-based subscription from the Office Store. The company is letting ISVs submit subscription apps in its Seller Dashboard starting today. By next month, customers will be able to purchase apps on a subscription basis.

Since its launch last year, Office Store customers could only purchase software with traditional perpetual-use licenses. By offering subscription-based apps in the Office Store, Microsoft officials believe it will increase the appeal of its Office 365 service and for using SharePoint in the cloud. Two-thirds of the applications in the Office Store are SharePoint apps, given participation from ISVs and developers, said Dene Cleaver, Microsoft's senior product marketing manager for Office.

"We hope the ISVs and developers can drive innovation and update their apps and I think it allows them to price accordingly, so they can continue to drive value," Cleaver said.

Apps developed for the Office Store can work with Office 365, SharePoint Online and SharePoint 2013. However these apps will not work in earlier versions of SharePoint including SharePoint 2010. "The app model [on-premise] is tied to SharePoint 2013," Cleaver said.

One early supporter of the new model is Adlib, which provides an app called PDF Publisher, software that takes multiple documents from any format and publishes them it into a single PDF document. It can also encapsulate them into an internal report. PDF Publisher began as an application that runs on a premises-based server. Adlib President and CEO Peter Duff said the company's cloud-based version offers many of the key features provided in the server implementation.

"We're based in the Windows Azure cloud, and we can integrate that directly into Office 365 as well as on premise," Duff explained. He added that he believes there's pent-up demand to purchase apps for SharePoint on a subscription basis. "People can utilize our technology on a subscription basis without having to implement significant costs associated with on premise hardware and software and operating systems and things like that," he said.

A rich portfolio of apps in the Office Store will be a critical factor in swaying organizations to move to Office 365 and SharePoint Online, experts say, noting many developers are eager to offer them on a subscription basis. "Today it's just pockets of legacy apps that have moved to the app store," said Ben Curry, managing partner and a principal architect at Summit 7 Systems, a Huntsville, Ala. Microsoft partner, consultancy and solutions provider.

Many of his clients have turned to Nintex, a SharePoint workflow provider that is frequently mentioned as one of the first key ISVs to embrace the Office Store with the trial version of its Nintex Workflow Online app. "Clients who love Nintex on premise are now loading the app version. It's an easier model to keep updated."

While Microsoft says there have been 1 million downloads from the store, few are using it in a big way. "I think that will change," Curry said. "As the app store grows, demand will grow."



Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 10/01/2013 at 12:03 PM


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