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  • Question

  • Hi Folks,

    I have been selling an Excel Statistical addin through my website for a few years now. It was originally developed on Windows 7 using VS2010 but I have now upgraded it to run on Office 2013. The development environment is now Windows 8.1, using VS2013, vb.net and .net 4.5.

    I wish to market this Excel addin through the Windows Desktop app store.

    OK, I now have the right development environment but what exactly do I do next?

    Thanks,

    Bernie


    Bernie

    Sunday, December 8, 2013 12:31 AM

Answers

  • Hi Bernie,

    I think I can answer your question - my Excel Add-In called XLTools has been published yesterday in Windows Store. Open Windows Store and search for "XLTools" - you will see my Add-In listed there.

    There are two major requirements to comply rules:

    1) You need to create windows installer package which can install your add-in and all required prerequisites

    2) Your installer has to create shortcut (in my case it just creates a shortcut for excel workbook which can be used by user to play with my Add-In).

    This should be enought to pass certification.

    Fill free to contact me directly via email petr.lyapin[аt]wavepoint.ru. I can provide you with more information if you need. 

    Eugene, I believe (and I have read somewhere that it works this way) that for people using Windows RT Windows Store does not show Desktop Apps at all, so it is already smart enought to handle that.

    Best regards,

    Petr Lyapin



    • Proposed as answer by Peter Liapin Saturday, December 14, 2013 12:13 AM
    • Edited by Peter Liapin Saturday, December 14, 2013 12:15 AM
    • Marked as answer by Bernie Ok Saturday, December 14, 2013 2:14 AM
    Saturday, December 14, 2013 12:13 AM
  • Thanks, Petr, for reporting on your success story.  Glad the steps worked for you.

    Eugene, you are correct that COM/VSTO does not run on RT devices.  That said, the Windows Store does allow folks to list desktop (Win32) apps in the store.  See http://aka.ms/GetDesktopCertified and/or the other thread for more details.

    Bernie, if there are any remaining questions you have for me, please let me know.


    Michael Zlatkovsky | Program Manager, Visual Studio Tools for Office & Apps for Office

    • Marked as answer by Bernie Ok Saturday, December 14, 2013 2:14 AM
    Saturday, December 14, 2013 1:00 AM
  • To append to what Petr said:  while developing a setup experience is seldom a pleasant experience, our MSDN documentation does have the full "walkthrough" for what you need to do for deploying a VSTO solution.

    For VS 2012/2013 and Installshield, please see http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc442767.aspx.  Even if you're going to use WiX, the instructions will give you the registry info that you need.  Also note this important note regarding the registry (quoting from the article):

    <quote>

    • You can specify whether you want your add-in to be installed for all users of the computer (per-computer), or only for the user performing the installation (per-user).
    • If you want to support per-computer installations, create two separate installers. You can split installers based on the Office version (32-bit and 64-bit) or on the Windows version (32-bit and 64-bit) that the user is running.
    • Per-user installations require only one installer regardless of Office or Windows version.

    </quote>

    If you are developing with VS 2010, you can make use of the old "Setup" project as well (though note that this project is no longer available for VS 2012+).  The instructions can be found here:  http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/vsto/ff937654.aspx

    Hope this helps,

    - Michael


    Michael Zlatkovsky | Program Manager, Visual Studio Tools for Office & Apps for Office

    • Proposed as answer by Eugene Astafiev Monday, December 16, 2013 5:50 PM
    • Marked as answer by Bernie Ok Monday, December 16, 2013 11:53 PM
    Monday, December 16, 2013 5:30 PM
  • Hi Bernie,

    I would love to give you the link, but it is not possible as I understand. I was trying but could not find any place on the web where desktop app from Windows Store can be found as a web page. Someone might know that place, so please tell us!

    But, I will try to guide you on how you can find it:

    I believe the Windows Store is the place in Windows 8 where you download Apps. Basically, you have to navigate to modern Start screen in Windows 8 or 8.1 and open app called "Store". In my case it look like on following screen:

    Then you need to find search bar (in Windows 8.1 they made it simplier to find - it is right in the right top cornet, for Windows 8 you should open charms panel - there was search option there). And if you type XLTools in the search you should see:

    Bernie, please let me know if can not find it with this guidance. I hope I'm not alone who can see my app listed in Windows Store!

    Best Regards,

    Petr Lyapin

    • Marked as answer by Bernie Ok Monday, December 16, 2013 12:57 AM
    Saturday, December 14, 2013 8:21 AM
  • Hi Bernie,

    There are two options how you can build your installer. Please note that you need msi installer (ClickOnce is not an option).

    So, as I said above there are two options:

    1) Install Shield - free version is very limited, so I would not recommend it

    2) Wix - I use this toolset for my installer

    Whichever way you select as a first step you have to learn technical insides about how Add-In can be registered in your system (i mean which registry keys you need to create, where to put your dlls, Per-User/Per-Machine installations, etc). Try to search google for "vsto add-in registration" or something similar. 

    The next step would be to learn how to implement the logic you learned in first step using Install Shield or Wix framework. Try to ask google something like "excel add-in wix installer" or similar and you will get some articles on this topic like following two:

    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/gsmyth/archive/2013/01/27/wix-installer-for-vsto-projects.aspx

    http://www.add-in-express.com/creating-addins-blog/2012/11/13/wix-installation-vsto-office-addin/

    Based on my own expirience I can say that none of above articles will give you an exact and easy to follow steps to create an installer. You should check many of them and learn a bit here and another bit there...

    I'm not sure if you would be interested in other way I can propose you. My company provide software development service and we can help you to build this installer with our hands on experience in this area. In this case you will not have to learn all this stuff yourself. Let me know if it might be interesting for you (I mentioned my email in one of previous replies).

    Best regards,

    Petr Lyapin

    • Proposed as answer by Peter Liapin Monday, December 16, 2013 12:09 PM
    • Edited by Peter Liapin Monday, December 16, 2013 12:17 PM
    • Marked as answer by Bernie Ok Monday, December 16, 2013 11:53 PM
    Monday, December 16, 2013 12:04 PM

All replies

  • Hello Bernie,

    Installing Visual Studio 2013 on Windows 8.1 allows you developing Windows Apps that support new features introduced by the Windows 8.1 SDK. There were no changes to the way of developing and distributing Office add-ins.

    >> I wish to market this Excel addin through the Windows Desktop app store.

    There is no such store :-) Most probably you are talking about the Windows Store. If so, it allows distributing only a special type of application - Windows Apps. Unfortunately the store doesn't accept Office add-ins (nor Windows Desktop applications). That is why you have to use regular ways of distributing Office add-ins - Windows Installer or ClickOnce. Please read more about these installers in the Deploying an Office Solution article in MSDN.

    If you are talking about the Office Store which accepts only Office Apps, please read more about this kind of apps on the Apps for Office page in MSDN. But Office Store doesn't allow distributing COM add-ins.

    Sunday, December 8, 2013 9:59 AM
  • Thank you for responding Eugene,

    I seem to be getting some mixed messages here (or am I just plain confused!!).

    Michael Zlatkovsky (Program Manager, Visual Studio Tools for Office & Apps for Office) states "VSTO add-ins should be able to be listed in the Windows Store as desktop apps". (See his Full Comments Here

    Can we have some sort of resolution between yours and his comments.

    Best,

    Bernie


    Bernie

    Sunday, December 8, 2013 7:00 PM
  • Hello Bernie,

    Did you have a chance to look at the references mentioned by Michael Zlatkovsky?

    The Certification requirements for Windows desktop apps article states the following:

    For an app to qualify for Windows 8.1 Desktop App Certification it must meet the following criteria and all the technical requirements listed in this document.

    • It must be a standalone app
    • It must run on a local Windows 8.1 computer
    • It can be a client component of a certified Windows Server app
    • It must be code and feature complete
    • It must not communicate with Windows Store apps via local mechanisms, including via files and registry keys
    • It must not jeopardize or compromise the security or functionality of the Windows system
    • It must have a unique name and must not be trademarked by others

    To pass the app certification stage you need to develop a standalone application (not add-ins).

    Monday, December 9, 2013 8:59 AM
  • Thank you again Eugene,

    I have read the Windows 8.1 Desktop App Certification criteria. However it is not clear to me that an Excel addin cannot be regarded as a standalone app. To re-quote Michael, "I consulted with a few colleagues regarding your question. VSTO add-ins should be able to be listed in the Windows Store as desktop apps, provided they comply with the usual desktop requirements."

    It seems clear to me from Michael's comments that an Excel addin can indeed be distributed through the Windows store. As Petr Lyapin notes, "I have seen at least couple Excel Add-Ins out there published in Windows Store.". (See his Full Comments Here)

    I guess I would like to make an additional point. An Excel addin can greatly expand the functionality of a powerful productivity tool such as Excel. I think that it would be of value to both Microsoft and users of Excel to offer quality Excel addins through the Windows store. You can get a sense of what I mean by this by looking at this video that I posted to uTube some time ago.

    Best,

    Bernie


    Bernie

    Tuesday, December 10, 2013 12:14 AM
  • Hi Bernie

    Try replying to Michael's message. He should get an alert, if the forum software is functioning correctly, and might provide some clarification.


    Cindy Meister, VSTO/Word MVP, my blog

    Thursday, December 12, 2013 5:49 PM
    Moderator
  • Hello Bernie,

    Of course, it will be easier to locate add-ins in the store instead of the web. However, I would like to admit that Office RT (which is run on Windows RT) doesn't support COM add-in at all. That is why I can't imagine any mechanism available in the store for distributing COM add-ins. 

    Actually, I have never seen any guides or steps described for publishing add-ins to the store. May be it will be a feature for the next Windows 8.2 release? ;)

    You definitely need to ask Michael.

    Friday, December 13, 2013 8:23 PM
  • Hi Bernie,

    I think I can answer your question - my Excel Add-In called XLTools has been published yesterday in Windows Store. Open Windows Store and search for "XLTools" - you will see my Add-In listed there.

    There are two major requirements to comply rules:

    1) You need to create windows installer package which can install your add-in and all required prerequisites

    2) Your installer has to create shortcut (in my case it just creates a shortcut for excel workbook which can be used by user to play with my Add-In).

    This should be enought to pass certification.

    Fill free to contact me directly via email petr.lyapin[аt]wavepoint.ru. I can provide you with more information if you need. 

    Eugene, I believe (and I have read somewhere that it works this way) that for people using Windows RT Windows Store does not show Desktop Apps at all, so it is already smart enought to handle that.

    Best regards,

    Petr Lyapin



    • Proposed as answer by Peter Liapin Saturday, December 14, 2013 12:13 AM
    • Edited by Peter Liapin Saturday, December 14, 2013 12:15 AM
    • Marked as answer by Bernie Ok Saturday, December 14, 2013 2:14 AM
    Saturday, December 14, 2013 12:13 AM
  • Thanks, Petr, for reporting on your success story.  Glad the steps worked for you.

    Eugene, you are correct that COM/VSTO does not run on RT devices.  That said, the Windows Store does allow folks to list desktop (Win32) apps in the store.  See http://aka.ms/GetDesktopCertified and/or the other thread for more details.

    Bernie, if there are any remaining questions you have for me, please let me know.


    Michael Zlatkovsky | Program Manager, Visual Studio Tools for Office & Apps for Office

    • Marked as answer by Bernie Ok Saturday, December 14, 2013 2:14 AM
    Saturday, December 14, 2013 1:00 AM
  • Thank you Eugene, Petr and Michael,

    that does clear matters up for me.

    Petr & Michael, I really do appreciate your offer for additional assistance. (I may well be in contact in the next few days/weeks).

    In the meantime, one more (bonehead!!) question for Petr. I have searched for 'XLTools' in what I think was the Windows store but could not find it!!!! Could you provide me with a link?

    Thanks,

    Bernie


    Bernie

    Saturday, December 14, 2013 2:21 AM
  • Hi Bernie,

    I would love to give you the link, but it is not possible as I understand. I was trying but could not find any place on the web where desktop app from Windows Store can be found as a web page. Someone might know that place, so please tell us!

    But, I will try to guide you on how you can find it:

    I believe the Windows Store is the place in Windows 8 where you download Apps. Basically, you have to navigate to modern Start screen in Windows 8 or 8.1 and open app called "Store". In my case it look like on following screen:

    Then you need to find search bar (in Windows 8.1 they made it simplier to find - it is right in the right top cornet, for Windows 8 you should open charms panel - there was search option there). And if you type XLTools in the search you should see:

    Bernie, please let me know if can not find it with this guidance. I hope I'm not alone who can see my app listed in Windows Store!

    Best Regards,

    Petr Lyapin

    • Marked as answer by Bernie Ok Monday, December 16, 2013 12:57 AM
    Saturday, December 14, 2013 8:21 AM
  • Hi Petr,

    I have already located your add-in in the store. But it looks like only Windows 8.1 users can install such apps. Actually, I didn't update my machine to Windows 8.1 (it will be a separate installation). Here is what I see in the store:

    Note, there is no Install button shown on the screenshot.

    Also I tried to search the store web page but couldn't find it there too. Nor from my Surface RT (you were right, Microsoft filters the content in the store). And here is what I see in the browser:

    We couldn't find any search results in the Windows Store for "xltools"

    So, the main question is why we can't find it on the web? Is it by design?

    Saturday, December 14, 2013 8:35 AM
  • Hi Eugene,

    Actually, your screen is all right and you can install the App, but for Desktop Apps you have to navigate to publisher website and download it from there (you can find the link on the App's page in Windows Store). I have already mentioned that Desktop Apps are special for Windows Store, so the way you install them is special as well. In general Windows Store does nothing more then just adds your app to the listing and provide the link to your website where users can actually download the app. It is still your responsibility to provide download page and in case of paid apps to process payment via your website (in case of Desktop Apps Windows Store does NOT handle payments).

    So, in general Desktop Apps in Windows Store is just another good option to drive more traffic to your website and it does nothing more then just that. Which is cool, I think.

    P.S. We still have the question about listing on the we which Eugene asked. Is it as designed? Or do we need to wait a bit until web version is updated with new published apps?

    Best Regards,
    Petr Lyapin

    • Proposed as answer by Peter Liapin Saturday, December 14, 2013 10:09 AM
    • Unproposed as answer by Peter Liapin Saturday, December 14, 2013 10:09 AM
    • Proposed as answer by Peter Liapin Saturday, December 14, 2013 10:14 AM
    • Edited by Peter Liapin Saturday, December 14, 2013 10:24 AM
    Saturday, December 14, 2013 10:09 AM
  • Thank you for the clarification, Petr.

    Now I have a complete picture in my mind. The Windows Store acts like an advertisement board: "Hey, I am there. You can download me from the vendor's web site".

    Actually, I am not sure whether it is a cool feature or not. Of course, it gives you more traffic, but I was supposed to find at least payment possibilities, a background download and silent installation (if possible), like a regular Windows App does. 

    Saturday, December 14, 2013 10:24 AM
  • Thanks Petr,

    I can now access to Windows store and from the comments on this thread I have a far clearer picture of what is required,

    My original question on this thread was to find out what to do next. I assume this will be to create an installer (in the past I have used ClickOnce). I cannot find a link on the web with instructions for creating an installer so I am hoping that you may offer a suggestion.

    Thanks,

    Bernie


    Bernie

    Monday, December 16, 2013 1:01 AM
  • Hello Bernie,

    Please take a look at the Deploying an Office Solution by Using ClickOnce article in MSDN. It describes the required steps for deploying VSTO based add-ins.

    Monday, December 16, 2013 6:29 AM
  • Hi Bernie,

    There are two options how you can build your installer. Please note that you need msi installer (ClickOnce is not an option).

    So, as I said above there are two options:

    1) Install Shield - free version is very limited, so I would not recommend it

    2) Wix - I use this toolset for my installer

    Whichever way you select as a first step you have to learn technical insides about how Add-In can be registered in your system (i mean which registry keys you need to create, where to put your dlls, Per-User/Per-Machine installations, etc). Try to search google for "vsto add-in registration" or something similar. 

    The next step would be to learn how to implement the logic you learned in first step using Install Shield or Wix framework. Try to ask google something like "excel add-in wix installer" or similar and you will get some articles on this topic like following two:

    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/gsmyth/archive/2013/01/27/wix-installer-for-vsto-projects.aspx

    http://www.add-in-express.com/creating-addins-blog/2012/11/13/wix-installation-vsto-office-addin/

    Based on my own expirience I can say that none of above articles will give you an exact and easy to follow steps to create an installer. You should check many of them and learn a bit here and another bit there...

    I'm not sure if you would be interested in other way I can propose you. My company provide software development service and we can help you to build this installer with our hands on experience in this area. In this case you will not have to learn all this stuff yourself. Let me know if it might be interesting for you (I mentioned my email in one of previous replies).

    Best regards,

    Petr Lyapin

    • Proposed as answer by Peter Liapin Monday, December 16, 2013 12:09 PM
    • Edited by Peter Liapin Monday, December 16, 2013 12:17 PM
    • Marked as answer by Bernie Ok Monday, December 16, 2013 11:53 PM
    Monday, December 16, 2013 12:04 PM
  • To append to what Petr said:  while developing a setup experience is seldom a pleasant experience, our MSDN documentation does have the full "walkthrough" for what you need to do for deploying a VSTO solution.

    For VS 2012/2013 and Installshield, please see http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc442767.aspx.  Even if you're going to use WiX, the instructions will give you the registry info that you need.  Also note this important note regarding the registry (quoting from the article):

    <quote>

    • You can specify whether you want your add-in to be installed for all users of the computer (per-computer), or only for the user performing the installation (per-user).
    • If you want to support per-computer installations, create two separate installers. You can split installers based on the Office version (32-bit and 64-bit) or on the Windows version (32-bit and 64-bit) that the user is running.
    • Per-user installations require only one installer regardless of Office or Windows version.

    </quote>

    If you are developing with VS 2010, you can make use of the old "Setup" project as well (though note that this project is no longer available for VS 2012+).  The instructions can be found here:  http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/vsto/ff937654.aspx

    Hope this helps,

    - Michael


    Michael Zlatkovsky | Program Manager, Visual Studio Tools for Office & Apps for Office

    • Proposed as answer by Eugene Astafiev Monday, December 16, 2013 5:50 PM
    • Marked as answer by Bernie Ok Monday, December 16, 2013 11:53 PM
    Monday, December 16, 2013 5:30 PM
  • Hello Peter, It seems to me that Microsoft has changed it's policy on this now? I have created a VSTO add-in with a custom ribbon interface and a number of buttons that work with Word documents, and I have passed the Windows App certification kit analysis, and I made a developer account on the Microsoft Store and the account was approved, but now there is only the possibility of creating a new "App" for the Store and it must have ".appx" extension if I remember correctly. So it is no longer possible to create an insertion for a VSTO AddIn packaged into an .exe installer?
    Tuesday, February 9, 2016 8:26 AM
  • Hi Lwangaman,

    Yes, you are right. Microsoft has abandoned the way of publishing VSTO add-ins described above. Now it is not possible to publish VSTO add-in to the store.

    Our XLTools add-in that we published earlier was also remove from the store.

    Thursday, July 13, 2017 9:51 PM
  • Hi Peter,

    So, How Can I distribute a VSTO add-in?

    Thanks

    Friday, April 20, 2018 6:48 PM
  • You need to build an MSI based installer. See Deploying an Office Solution by Using Windows Installer for more information. 

    profile for Eugene Astafiev at Stack Overflow, Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers

    Sunday, April 22, 2018 1:15 PM
  • Hi Emma,

    As stated in our conversation above:

    “Microsoft has recently abandoned the way of publishing VSTO add-ins described above. Now it is not possible to publish VSTO add-in to the store.

    Our XLTools add-in that we published earlier was also remove from the store.”

    So, unfortunately you cannot publish your VSTO add-ins via the Windows Store anymore.

    Basically, the only way to publish VSTO add-ins at the moment is to create your own website where your users can find and download your add-in.

    Here is how we did it: https://xltools.net/

    Friday, May 4, 2018 5:43 AM
  • Thank you Peter, but now I have another question. I decided to publish my VSTO add-in to the Microsoft Store because I was having troubles with the MSI installation: users can't install it due to company's security politics. So, Do you have any suggestions?
    Friday, May 4, 2018 6:02 PM
  • Different companies may have different policies and sometimes you just would not be able to find any workaround it. I.e. your users will have to get permission to install your add-in from the IT department.

    What you can do on your side - you can try to minimize the amount of "security rights" your MSI package needs in order to be installed. For instance, you should create PerUser based installation (not PerMachine which requires admin rights). But even PerUser installation may not always work because sometimes you may need to install some prerequisites like .NET Framework which will still require admin rights.

    So, as I know, there is no solution which will solve security policies problem in 100% cases. 

    Friday, August 24, 2018 9:14 PM