Could charging for Microsoft Teams apps be just around the corner?
Updated 4th September with new information.
Today, apps in the Microsoft Teams app store are free to acquire and there isn’t a purchasing model. Some developers have used out-of-band subscription models or license keys to monetize their solution but there isn’t a nice way to transact inside the Microsoft Teams App Store.
Making it so that developers can charge money for apps has been something Microsoft has been working on for a while. It was first announced at Build 2019, and then a year later at Ignite 2020 we saw the work that was done in the Teams Admin Center to facilitate the experience: (all the links in my original blog posts are now 404 but you can still watch the Ignite 2020 video at on YouTube)
So, what’s new?
A new Microsoft 365 Roadmap item showed up yesterday: Microsoft Teams: Enable Teams users to purchase Teams apps through the Teams store:
There isn’t a lot of detail here, but it looks like this is the final piece of the puzzle – enhancing the App Store experience for users to enable them to purchase eligible Teams apps through the Teams App Store. This feature is showing with a release date of October 2021, but I would bet good money on it being a Microsoft Ignite announcement.
Update 4th Sept: App Manifest Update
The description for the value describes it as a “unique identifier for the Commerical Marketplace Software as a Service Offer” giving a really good indication of how app developers will set up the payment and plans side of things. The Commerical Marketplace is an existing way for Microsoft ISVs to create and publish commercial offerings.
So, what don’t we know?
- We still don’t really know (I don’t think) how developers will “opt in” to monetisation or set it up. Presumably there will either be a change to the app manifest, and/or some other portal to set up options such as subscription models, pricing, free trials, where the money goes etc.
- We don’t know whether this will start with a worldwide launch, or US only.
- We don’t know what controls IT Admins will have over the ability for users to purchase apps. We saw previously that admins can choose to purchase apps via the Teams Admin Center (although it’s not clear how those purchases are applied to users, or whether it’s first-come, first-served), but we don’t know if IT Admins will be able to stop people spending their own money (and then trying to expense) app purchases.
Regardless, it’s great news to see that a lot of hard work on the back-end over a period of time is finally coming to bear fruit. I think letting developers easily make money from the Teams App Store will incentivise a load of new indie developers to build for Teams, which can only be a good thing for everyone.