Microsoft is Aggressively Expanding its Office Store

At the end of a week that saw Microsoft piling on functionality and cash incentives to capture a bigger slice of the enterprise market, including businesses with a mere 150 seats, it also announced an aggressive expansion of its Office store and more languages to capture new markets.

While it's obvious Microsoft is going to push its own products in its own store, it will also highlight third party apps that integrate with Microsoft tools.

Sprucing Up Office Store

Microsoft has been planning this makeover and its expansion into new markets for the past year. This is more than just a lick of paint though. Microsoft calls this a new way of attracting customers and persuading them to buy apps.

In a blog post outing the changes, Microsoft describes the new home page as a sleek, modern interface with bold, wide-format app icons and a user-friendly category browser experience down the left side. The text search tool has been improved, too.

It also noted it has improved the developer experience by speeding up the on-boarding process so that it is easier and quicker to upload new apps. It will promote popular apps by placing them at the top of the home page, based on the results of a new ranking service that is also part of the makeover.

This will be accompanied in October by a new set of interactive analytics. Those who have placed apps in the store will be able to assess how their apps are selling and follow the release of the revamped Office Developer Center, where those who are interested in building apps for the store or for the App Catalog in SharePoint can learn how to build and market new apps.

International Expansion

However, the real push for new customers is in the development of new languages including Dutch, Italian and Russian today, and support for three more launching next month, including Portuguese (Brazil) and two versions of Chinese (traditional and simplified).

Not only will this mean that the store itself will be accessible to people living in those geographies, but that they will also contained fully localized apps built by developers in those regions.

As of today, Microsoft will have fully localized apps and storefronts for Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Russia, with stores in Brazil, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong SAR to follow.

Microsoft noted that it has localized most of its existing inventory for the new markets and is already taking apps that have been built in and for those markets. It cited the example of the Dutch software company Aia, which has released a content-management app for SharePoint.

That app enables users to rapidly compose proposals, contracts and other documents by inserting data from their SharePoint libraries into Aia’s cloud-based templates — all within employers’ own corporate guidelines.

Finally, starting late this month, Office Store apps will be displayed in the revamped Pinpoint partner portal, which in the 2014 financial year hosted 6.3 million visitors and generated 1.2 million partner referrals, according to Microsoft. Microsoft stated that displaying apps in the Pinpoint partner portal is just one step in a long-term plan to surface Office apps in more places to increase awareness and customer engagement.

If you stand back and look at it, this is more than just a simple redesign of the store front. This is the expansion of that store in the number of new markets, especially into the growing markets of Russia and Brazil. Microsoft is also promising new developer APIs, better visibility of apps inside Office products and of course, a bunch of new apps.