In August 2012, Microsoft officially launched its plan for Office and SharePoint Stores for marketing, selling and deploying apps from Microsoft and third-party developers.
On February 3, 2014, the company made "generally available" (GA) apps built for and around Microsoft Access. With that GA designation, Microsoft added to its Office Stores yet another, officially sanctioned category of apps to complement its already unveiled app categories, including Word apps, Excel apps, Mail apps and Project apps.
The GA designation means "customers can now create, share, and use Access apps with full confidence and the same level of guaranteed availability as the rest of Office 365," according to a February 3 post on the Office blogs site. While there were Access 2013-centric apps in the Office/SharePoint stores as of last year, "until now, Access apps were in preview and weren’t supported under the Office 365 service-level agreement (SLA) and compliance standards," Microsoft officials conceded.
Access apps are now generally available for Office 365 Small Business, Midsize, Enterprise, and Education customers, officials said. But Access apps for Office 365 Government customers are still considered to be in preview. The Access apps are available via the SharePoint Store, according to the blog post (but from what I can tell, also seem to be available through the Office Store).
Microsoft introduced its Office and SharePoint Stores as part of the company's strategy to wean developers away from the plug-in model and toward a more Web-based model of app development and deployment.
I'll be interested to see how and if Microsoft changes the way it promotes and delivers Office/SharePoint Store apps once it remakes its Office.com site as part of its expected Office Online rebranding move.
Update: In other Office-related news, Microsoft execs said today that Microsoft Project is now up to 20 million users. Also: Microsoft is rolling out as of May 1, 2014, a new Project SKU called "Project Lite," which provides project-team members with a subset of Project's full capabilities. It will be available for $7 per user per month, cheaper than Project's $33 per user per month subscription rate.