Microsoft quietly unveiled its app store for Microsoft Office 2013. The company announced that it would support applications within Office to expand functionality. Although it was vague during the Microsoft Office 2013 keynote, we now have a better picture of what Microsoft wants to give customers with these add on apps.
Since this is only the first day that the Microsoft Office Store has opened, app selection is still pretty sparse but there are a few applications that show the power given to developers to integrate their applications within Office products, even on the web. Outlook.com supports applications too, with apps for LinkedIn and Groupon, which will make staying in touch and finding deals much easier.
Applications were glossed over during the Microsoft Office 2013 keynote, but they are simple enough to to figure out. In any Office program like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook, there is a tab for ‘Insert.’ Clicking that will show a button that reads, ‘Apps for Office.’ This will take you to a pop up page that shows up the most popular add-ons for the application you’re currently using. It also shows your most recently used apps.
One thing I don’t like about how Microsoft has implemented apps within Office is the jarring transition from being in an app and being forced to use a browser to download an app. I can see why Microsoft did this as it will allow users to purchase an application once and have it on all of their machines with Office. Still, it would have been nice to see everything contained within Office.
Once an app has been installed, you can begin using it under the same ‘Insert’ tab. For example, I installed the Encyclopedia Britannica and Merriam-Webster Dictionary apps for Microsoft Word. Now if I want to look up a definition of a word, all I have to do is right click the word and hit ‘Define.’ The Merriam-Webster Dictionary will pop up on the side, giving me the definition. This works much the same way as multitasking does in Windows 8.
An interesting thing to note about these extensions is that they are based on web standards so they won’t need to be blocked by IT departments. Microsoft knows its demographic for Office 2013 and security is definitely a top priority. Continuing their focus on enterprise, Microsoft fully supports these extensions for their SharePoint collaboration program.
A majority of the apps in the Microsoft Office Store are free but as development continues, there will be paid apps. Microsoft will implement an 80/20 split with developers taking the majority. Office 2013 still has a while before it is ready to be released so here’s hoping that many more developers will create these handy extensions for Microsoft Office 2013.