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What's new in licensing apps for Office and SharePoint

apps for Office and SharePoint

Learn what's new in licensing for apps for Office and SharePoint.

Last modified: March 13, 2014

Applies to: apps for Office | apps for SharePoint | Office 2013 | SharePoint Server 2013

Microsoft has added two capabilities to its app model framework that affect when and how developers implement licensing checks in their apps for Office and SharePoint:

  • Users can activate apps for Office from the Office Store without being signed in with a Microsoft Account.

  • Developers can publish apps for Office and SharePoint to the Office Store with a paid subscription license.

Users can activate apps for Office when not signed into their Microsoft accounts

To help maximize the reach and adoption of your apps, as of Office 2013, Service Pack 1, Microsoft will no longer require that a user be signed into Office with their Microsoft account in order to activate apps for Office.

When a user activates an app for Office, the Office application containing the app sends an HTTP requests to the app home page.

  • Previously, a license token was passed as an encoded URL query parameter—et--as part of this request

  • As of Office 2013, Service Pack 1, the license token will be passed as part of this request only if the user is signed in with their Microsoft Account.

If the user is not signed in to their Microsoft account, the Office application requesting the app home page does not append the license token parameter. Therefore, you must include code in your app that determines whether the license token is present on each HTTP request for the app’s home page. If it is not, your app can treat the request as coming from an anonymous user, and present the UI and functionality you decide is appropriate. For example, your app could present UI that provides more information about your app, a link to your app’s Office Store listing, a reduced set of functionality, or other relevant material. Use the app licensing framework to customize what your app presents to users who are not signed into their Microsoft accounts.

App license type

Recommended UX when the user is anonymous (license token is not present)

Free

No change in behavior, app can function the same. However, if you rely on the license token to determine user identity of your free app, you might want to provide a notice to the user asking them to sign in to Office with a Microsoft Account to get the full benefits of your app.

Trial

Provide the same trial app experience when the user anonymous. If you rely on the license token to determine user identity of your trial app, you might want to provide a notice to the user asking them to sign in to Office with a Microsoft Account to get the full benefits of your app.

Paid

If your app only supports paid licenses (that is, it doesn’t provide a trial experience), you should present the user with information about your app, rather than a functional app, along with a hyperlink to your app’s Office Store listing page. This way users will be aware of your app and encouraged to purchase it.

By default, if your app does not perform this licensing check, your app will present the same UI and functionality to anonymous users as it does to licensed users.

For more information on the app licensing framework, see Licensing apps for Office and SharePoint and How to: Add license checks to your apps for Office.

Developers can now offer apps for Office and SharePoint as subscriptions in the Office Store

You can now offer your app in the Office Store on a subscription payment basis. Subscription apps are offered on a monthly, automatic-renewal basis. Subscriptions automatically renew, in perpetuity, until users manually cancel their subscriptions.

To enable you to customize your app’s UI or behavior based on subscription status, the app licensing framework now includes a way to determine the subscription status of your app. The app license token contains a new parameter, ss, which represents the status of the user’s app subscription. When you perform an app license check, you pass the license token to the Office Store license verification service; the subscription status is then returned in the SubscriptionState property. Using the property, you can determine a user’s subscription status and code your app to react accordingly.

Valid subscription state values include:

Value

Description

Recommended user experience for your subscription app

0

Not applicable.

The app license is not for a subscription app.

Not applicable

1

Active.

The app license subscription is currently paid for.

Full app experience

2

Failed payment.

The automatic monthly billing for the app license subscription has failed.

There are several reasons payment may have failed. For example, the credit card being billed might have expired. When payment fails, emails are sent to the Microsoft account paying for the app license. However, the user might not check their Microsoft account email on a frequent basis, or, in the case of apps for SharePoint, the person paying for the app license may not actually be the person using the app license.

Present the user with information that their subscription has been cancelled. Provide information about your app along with a hyperlink to your app’s Office Store listing page so they are encouraged to renew their subscription.

3

Canceled.

The app license subscription has been canceled, and final monthly billing period the user has paid for has expired.

Present UI in your app alerting the user of the problem with billing, so that they can resolve it.

4

Delayed cancel.

The app license subscription has been canceled, but the subscription is still within the current, monthly billing period the user has paid for. Once the current, paid monthly billing period expires, the subscription status changes to Canceled.

Full app experience. In addition, you may want to present contextual UI to ask the user for feedback on why they are canceling their subscription, or to encourage them to re-subscribe.

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