Microsoft has opened its Office Store, a repository for apps and add-ons that can be used within Office and SharePoint.
The Office Store is closely integrated into Office 2013 and the web versions of Microsoft's productivity tools. Available as of Monday to users with a Microsoft account and a preview version of Office, SharePoint or Exchange, the company said the store presented a "huge" opportunity for developers.
"Whether the app is focused on content management, data visualisation, financial management, project management, sales & marketing, HR, education, travel [or] social, there are an incredible number of individuals or teams who are looking for solutions to meet those needs," SharePoint product manager Vivek Narasimhan said in a blog post.
Apps that are up in the store now include a Merriam-Webster dictionary that makes it possible to look up definitions from within a Word document, a Twitter app that allows users to conduct their tweeting activities from within Outlook, and a Bing Maps plugin for Excel users who want to plot location data from a column in their spreadsheet.
Microsoft, which takes a 20 percent cut from Office Store sales, has added an element of virality to the way the store works: if the user sends a document that was created using a certain app, the recipient also gets a reference inviting them to install the same app.
Being Office, the store comes with controls to let administrators limit access with 'customisable purchase workflows', and a SharePoint-based internal distribution mechanism for in-house apps.
Developers can also "include code in their apps to enforce their legal use," Narasimhan noted, suggesting that this feature could be used to — for example — build a trial app that unlocks its full potential if the user has a valid licence.
Narasimhan also used the post to tout the "extensive checks to filter out malicious and inappropriate content", through which Office Store apps must pass.
He took the opportunity to dig at Microsoft's rivals: "We know this area has been a source of great pain on other app stores so we have made our policies unambiguous and ready for you to get acquainted with early on in the process."
Those wishing to use the store now will need a Microsoft account and a preview version of Office, SharePoint or Exchange 2013.