Disclaimer: These posts represent my own small experiments with the Windows Store for Business. I only have visibility of what’s publicly on the internet and I’m learning here so apply a pinch of salt to these posts as I try to figure things out. You should always check with the official documentation here.
Following on from the previous post, I wanted to finish off these few posts about the Windows Store for Business by having a look at the ‘LOB apps’ section of the Store.
I logged back in to the admin console as my admin user, Jane, and went to that section of the Store;
and, having no publishers, I figured that I’d see if I could set one up which involves sending out an invitation by email – I think I may be taking this ‘role play’ a little far here but I filled in the form regardless;
and I sent the invite;
before I went to check my email, I wondered whether the Windows Developer Centre would surface this new invitation and, sure enough, under my “Account Settings” there’s the “Enterprise Associations” area;
and checking my mail revealed that I’d got a mail inviting me to publish apps for Backstreets Software (from Jane);
It’d be churlish not to accept an invitation like this so I went ahead and accepted it and the status moved to ‘Active’ both on my side;
and on the Backstreets Software side of things;
With all of that set up, what does it enable? Well, I don’t think that it enables anything on the organisational side – i.e. it’s not that the organisation ‘pulls’ apps from the developer. It’s more that the developer can now ‘push’ apps to the organisation.
With that in mind, I thought that I’d take this as a real scenario and build a ‘custom’ version of one of my old apps which is already in store and ship it to Backstreets Software as though it was a custom build for that company alone.
I have my QR code scanning app which gets bad reviews in the Store and which I’ve been migrating to Windows 10 but which I haven’t yet shipped to the public store.
Maybe Jane from Backstreets Software comes along and has an urgent need for the Windows 10 version of this app and is happy to take it in its current form regardless of me not yet being ready to put it into the public Store.
Is that do-able? I thought I’d see how it worked out. I didn’t want to mess around too much with my existing app in the Store so I made a new app;
and I went into the submission process;
and within the ‘Pricing and Availability’ section, I switched the ‘Distribution and Visibility’ option to ‘Line of Business’;
and that reveals my LOB partners;
Great – so I’m now submitting an app purely for the guys at Backstreets Software. As a ‘sanity check’ I also unchecked all the 242 markets that the app would usually be visible in because I really don’t want it showing up in the public Windows Store;
and this app is only a PC app at this point so I unchecked the option to allow people to install on Mobile.
When it came time to build packages for my app, I got a bit scared about submitting packages for a new app when the same code has already kind of submitted for an existing (public Store) app but I changed the Store association in the Visual Studio project such that the project was associated with the new app in the Store.
I then filled in the very minimal information for a Store submission and pressed the submit button to see what would happen.
It took about 90 minutes for this bar to go green from left to right and for the app to be ‘published in the Store’;
although I must admit that the terminology here seems a bit scary because I’m really hoping that my app isn’t “in the Store” as the label below might suggest that it is;
when I only want it to be in the Private Store of Backstreets Software.
With this new, amazing app available, what does it look like to Jane over at Backstreets software? I went over to that section of the admin portal and it hadn’t shown up;
and it wasn’t clear to me whether I’d messed up or whether this was just a timing thing so I thought I’d give it a few hours and see if it came through.
2.5 days later and it still hasn’t shown up in the Backstreets Software store so I’m going to have to go off and ask somebody and return to this post where I understand what I did wrong in the submission – expect an update to this post!
Update 1: and here is that update! I asked the folks from Windows Store for Business and they kindly explained that I hadn’t understood things correctly when I had made my Store submission.
My misunderstanding was in the relationship between Markets and the Windows Store for Business. As I said earlier, when I made my submission I;
“”Unchecked the 242 markets that the app would usually be visible in”
and that wasn’t the right thing to do – markets still apply even though the app is being published only to Backstreets Software.
I made a new submission for the app back in the Dev Center, making sure that my app was available in the UK market;
and that it was still published directly to Backstreets Software;
and, sure enough, a few hours later when Jane at Backstreets Software visits the Windows Store for Business she sees my app in here ‘New LOB apps’ section;
Fortunately, it’s not automatically added to her inventory but she can choose to accept/reject it;
and if accepted then it gets added to inventory and, naturally, falls out of the ‘New LOB apps’ list and onto the inventory list;
From there, like the other apps on that list, it can be added to the Private Store, assigned to specific users and so on as we’ve seen previously for apps on the inventory.
I added it to the private store and waited around 12 hours for it to show up which it did;
and then I logged back in to Simon’s machine as Simon to see whether this now shows up in his Store app and it does!
and he can start to install it;
and I was so close but, unfortunately, at the time of writing that then gives me an error on the installation;
and so I’m nearly there but I’ll come back and update the post when I figure out what’s going on at this last step.
Update 2: that error above seemed to be a temporary glitch as I went back later in the day and tried to install the app again and, this time around, it worked fine;
and the app’s installed for Simon;
and so the process has gone all the way from the ISV (me) through to the organisation (Backstreets Software) and the administrator (Jane) and on to the end user (Simon) and it all works out fine (once I figured out what I was doing).
I think that’s really cool and I’m really looking forward to when the Windows Store for Business can also do this for paid for applications as I think that can open a lot of extra doors for developers of LOB apps.