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SharePoint Store - Buying an Add-in, the Customer View

Lite SharePoint add-ins Free to downloadSharePoint Apps

Customer at the Microsoft SharePoint Office Store

or

How hard is to add an app

The practical realization of the dream of making a free app and then eventually earning money

Microsoft made some improvements to the store recently. All improvements are welcome. Microsoft has its own add-ins and is focused on strengthening the platform, Office and SharePoint.
I do not work for Microsoft. No thank you.

I'm, just to make it clear, just as any other developer or a company trying to make money from SharePoint add-ins. My own Store is also open for business.

In the following I'll describe how it is to be a customer at the Microsoft's SharePoint store, the process of finding an app, buying the app... Oh, it is called add-in now...

1. Searching for a SharePoint add-in from SharePoint

I clicked on "Add an app" and searched for "page layouts" from SharePoint



I got 32 results. Nice.




I clicked on the link to open the SharePoint Store. The results are interesting. An RSS viewer as the best match. Hmm...


On the second page is where I get an app with page layouts as a result - ResponsivePagesLite.



- From a website store.office.com

When I open the website, store.office .com and search for "page layouts", I get another result


The responsive page layouts are at the second place in search results. Interesting. I thought it was the same store. Apparently not.

2. Adding an app

Alright, I found the right app (add-in) and I want to add it to my SharePoint.
Many customers, also the ones that could add and purchase add-ins from the Office Store in the past, can only see a "Request it" button.

The "Request it" button is displayed when users are not able to add apps. There is a setting in Central Admin that is set to "No" per default.

Adding apps to SharePoint is disabled because it is a security risk.

But, what happens when you click on "Request it" button?

I tried it a year ago, and I found out that my request to add an app end up as an item in a list of app requests. There is no email or any other kind of alert sent to SharePoint Administrator.

3. Adding and trusting an app

No, we are not finished with adding an app.
When you add an app, you have to click on "Trust it" button. Then you might get an error starting with

"Sorry, something went wrong"

and

"Sorry, we can't seem to connect to the SharePoint Store."

Well, I just searched the Office Store, found an app, clicked on "Add it". No connection.

Searching for that error brings a lot of search results. Many people have had the same problem.
I had a customer that added a few of my add-ins. There was a "connection" for some of them, but not for all of them.


4. I decided to buy an app. Hmm...

I got several emails from customers that weren't able to purchase. It looks like buying an app from the Office Store requires the strength and determination of more than one person.

Key issues:
1. Click on "Buy" button does not always open a page where you can write your name and use a credit card
2. Click on "Confirm" after you entered the credit card information does not always work


5. No confirmation email. No receipt/invoice

The last time I bought an add-in, I haven't received a receipt. I've also received emails from customers wondering where the receipt/invoice is. Customers are apparently supposed to do the expense report without a receipt. (I apologize if the Office Store started sending a receipt recently.)

6. Updates

My add-ins are updated regularly with new features. Updating an add-in for a customer should be a simple click on the "update" link. But it is not.

When you click on "update", you also have to log in to the Office Store. You need to log in with the account of a person that downloaded the Add-in.

The question is why do customers have to sign in to the SharePoint Store in order to buy or download an add-in? They have to sign in with their personal Microsoft (hotmail) account.

They are already logged in to Office 365 or SharePoint. Why do they have to use their own personal Hotmail account to do they work. why is it supposed to be so difficult to download an add-in that will be used on a corporate SharePoint portal?

What happens when the person that bought or downloaded the add-in gets another job?!

Another issue connected to the update functionality is that "enable users to add add-ins" setting was introduced after customers purchased the add-in. In that case, when they click on the "update" link, they get a "Request it" button.

And lastly, I had a customer that purchased one of my add-ins, and after the update, neither the customer or me were able to add it to SharePoint. The reason was that somehow somewhere the add-in is defined as SharePoint on-premises only add-in.

I mean, it is possible that the purchasing is made by some developers that have never bought a thing on the Internet, but it's been 4 years since customers are able to purchase add-ins. It is more than reasonable to ask for a "Add", "Buy" button, "Download" and "Update" link to work.


7. Free or may be free

"Additional purchase may be required" says on some of the SharePoint add-ins that in reality are free to download. QuickPollLite is free to download and use for a month. My own service controls when the free one-month period is over.


Carousel is another of my add-ins. It is free to download and use for a month.


Am I going to see "may be required" for the Carousel too? I mean, wording in "may be" sound like a turn off for the customers. It is not a "maybe", it is a "may be" meaning uncertainty, the uneasy download.

It is hard to figure it out. Both add-ins are approved recently. Am I being punished for using my own trial service? What I hear from Microsoft sounds like they prefer that we build our own purchasing services, grow our business. But, as far as a trial service is concerned, it looks like we are supposed to use a Microsoft service.

Yes, there is a Microsoft's service. I tried to use the service and I got angry customers. Angry emails. 1. The service is too slow
2. They have to open the Firewall for yet another address

But, you can read the review from the gentlemen on the picture below, I shouldn't be using my own.

8. Reviews - from free to payed

It is possible to review an add-in even though you haven't bought it. It means that I can give a star and say something awful about an add-in and I don't even have to buy it.

This is a review of a free trial for SimpleNews.


It's in German. The translation to English says:

"I do not begrudge you.
I can imagine sometime in the distant future, the sun will swallow the earth and I'm pretty sure that women alone save the fortune of the Menkind. They are looking for a planet that offers an alternative to Earth. Men must not be with the resources as food and oxygen are scarce on this long undetermined path. The genetically best sperm, perhaps, from the polar region in liquid nitrogen is extremely resource-conserving. Then the space ship is the first time unmanned to travel and save humanity!"

Nice :-) Let's see another review.

The image below is a screenshot with reviews of ConnectWithUs add-in that shows Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social networks on SharePoint. The free trial is downloaded more than 6000 times. It has 4.5 out of 5 stars in rating. 

But, the payed version got another reviews. Reviews that can be summarized with ...it used to be great, ...I don't want to buy it. Reviews from people that didn't buy the add-in and they apparently don't have a last name.




In reality, a free app is seen as "bait and switch" and somebody is so angry that the review is posted just days after the app was published as trial.

ConnectWithUs is a smart add-in, but it takes time and effort to work on workarounds and updates each time Office 365 or SharePoint or Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Picasa, Flickr, or YouTube change their API.

And even if it didn't take much effort, it looks like the "earning money" part of the dream is not a possibility.

Also other add-ins got reviews from people that don't want to buy them or they don't want others to buy them.

QuickPoll add-in review:




ThemeBuilder add-in review:



Really? One time payment. License for all users. Free updates. Really?


9. Support

OK, I need help with adding an app or setting permissions for an app. When I click on the support link on store.office.com, support website for Office at https://support.office.com/ opens


When I click on "Apps" in the menu, I get a page with SharePoint issues, not SharePoint add-in issues.

When a try "Help" on my SharePoint site and type "add an app", I get some peculiar results about calendar appearance.



The question is, where are customers going to get help from. Am I supposed to follow up, purchase add-ins from time to time, in order to know how it is done.

I also wrote
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