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Deprecated features for Excel 2007

Today Eric Patterson returns with a few more guest posts on Compatibility.

Thus far the discussion about compatibility has been focused on how new features in Excel 2007 are handled when saving files to previous versions or when working in Compatibility Mode.  The flip side of the discussion is the list of features that are being deprecated for Excel 2007.  That will be the topic for today’s post.

Why Remove Anything?

Before jumping to the list of which features are being deprecated or removed, let me say that we never make decisions lightly about removing functionality that has been in the product.  We rarely remove functionality and strive for backwards compatibility with every version.  When we do make changes to functionality that has been in the product we do so when we believe it will be a benefit to the majority of our customers by helping us to make forward progress.

The List

Natural Language Formulas

This feature allowed people to use the labels of columns and rows on worksheets to refer to the cells adjacent to those cells without explicitly defining them as names.  This feature has been disabled by default since Excel 2000 based on customer feedback.  In Excel 12 we will completely remove this seldom-used feature from the product.  When opening files in Excel 2007 that use this feature, formulas will be converted to use cell references.

Note: This feature could be found in the Excel 11 options dialog with the title “Accept labels in formulasâ€

Insert Name Label

This command allowed people to more explicitly specify labels for Natural Language Formulas and is being removed as part of that feature.

Data Retrieval Services

In Office 2003, we introduced a new type of external data connection known as Data Retrieval Services.  Data Retrieval Services is a web service protocol for querying different data sources, and was originally intended as a new standard for getting data into Office applications.  Moving forward, however, we will no longer be investing in Data Retrieval Services.  The customer demand for something like this was much smaller than originally anticipated.

File Format Support

Historically Excel has supported many different data formats.  We have determined that a number of these older formats are seldom, if ever used.  We are removing support for some file types to allow us to devote more of our efforts towards the file formats that are being used.  Theses formats are being deprecated in 2 ways.  For the set of file formats with the lowest usage, we will be discontinuing support for opening and saving of these formats.  For the second set that has some minimal usage, we will support loading the files in Excel 2007 to allow you to save them in a newer format.

The following formats cannot be opened or saved in Excel 2007:

  • WK1 (1-2-3)
  • WK4 (1-2-3)
  • WJ3 (1-2-3 Japanese) (.wj3)
  • WKS (1-2-3)
  • WK3,(1-2-3)
  • WK1,FMT(1-2-3)
  • WJ2 (1-2-3 Japanese) (.wj2)
  • WJ3, FJ3 (1-2-3 Japanese) (.wj3)
  • DBF 2 (dBASE II)
  • WQ1 (Quattro Pro/DOS)
  • WK3,FM3(1-2-3)
  • Microsoft Excel Chart (.xlc)
  • WK1,ALL(1-2-3)
  • WJ1 (1-2-3 Japanese) (.wj1)
  • WKS (Works Japanese) (.wks)

The following formats may be opened, but not saved to in Excel 2007:

  • Microsoft Excel 2.1 Worksheet
  • Microsoft Excel 2.1 Macro
  • Microsoft Excel 3.0 Worksheet
  • Microsoft Excel 3.0 Macro
  • Microsoft Excel 4.0 Worksheet
  • Microsoft Excel 4.0 Macro
  • Microsoft Excel 97- Excel 2003 & 5.0/95 Workbook
  • Microsoft Excel 4.0 Workbook
  • DBF 3 (dBASE III)
  • DBF 4 (dBASE IV)

HTML File Format

Excel 2007 will no longer store “Excel only†feature information in our HTML file formats.  Based on very limited usage as a primary file format, we will not save Excel specific tags that retain Excel functionality when re-opened. 

We have found that Excel’s “Save as HTML†feature is used as a publishing format and we will continue to support it as a way to create a document to be viewed in a web browser.  Excel will still open HTML files and any Excel specific features contained in the file that was created in a previous version will be preserved.  Such files should be saved in one of the new file formats as a primary version of the document and published to HTML when desired.

HTML Save with Interactivity

Previous versions of Excel allowed for publishing of Excel files to HTML with interactivity using the Microsoft Office Web Components.  With the introduction of Excel Services, our ongoing investments in creating interactive spreadsheets in a web browser will be focused on Excel Services.  As part of this focus we will be removing support for saving HTML files with interactivity using the Office Web Components.

Integration with Microsoft Script Editor

As part of our decision to move away from supporting HTML as a full-fidelity file format, integration with Microsoft Script Editor (MSE) has been removed from Excel, Word and Powerpoint in Office 2007. 

In Excel, this means the following:

  • Script debugging components are no longer installed by default in an Office install
  • UI related to Microsoft Script Editor, View HTML Source, and manipulating HTML Scripts is no longer in the default UI
  • The HTMLProject Object Model is no longer functional (trying to access it will cause runtime errors)
  • Script objects (Worksheet.Scripts) can still be added to a worksheet, but will not roundtrip in the new file formats.  They will continue to roundtrip through older file formats
  • MSE is still installed by Office so you can run it “standalone†and edit HTML Files that way, if you want to.  Note that, aside from the setup changes to the debugging components, this does not affect MSE in Outlook, FrontPage or InfoPath.

What are we doing with Script Tags:

  • No change when saving to previous version file formats.  For new file formats, the information in ScriptTags is written out along with other drawing properties to the legacy drawing part of a given worksheet.  The script information does not roundtrip in the new file formats– it saves, but it does not load.  It will “re-persist†through another save (we keep the information in memory).

List Insert Row

The List feature in Excel 2003 has a special row at the bottom that is used for adding new records to the list.  In Excel 2007, the insert row has been removed based on feedback that we have heard from customers.  Lists (now Tables) have been improved, making it easy to add data by using the Tab key in the last row of the Table or by typing or pasting data directly below the Table.

Writeback to SharePoint

Excel 2003 added the ability to connect to (read) and update (write) to lists that reside on SharePoint sites.  Moving forward we are focusing our efforts on Access as the best way for writing data to lists on SharePoint and taking SharePoint lists offline.

For Excel we are deprecating the update behavior in the following ways:

  • Existing files from Excel 2003 will load and continue to support update functionality when opened in Excel 2007.
  • Lists linked to SharePoint will be converted to read-only Tables when existing files are saved to the new Excel 12 file formats.
  • It is still possible to “publish†a Table to SharePoint, however this is a one-time write to SharePoint.

OLAP Cube Wizard

In Previous versions of Excel, the OLAP Cube Wizard would allow you to create OLAP Cube files from relational data sources.  This feature allowed for adding hierarchical data organization to relation data for viewing relational data in PivotTables and storage of the data in a separate file.  The OLAP Cube Wizard has been removed from Excel 2007 based on the limited use of the feature.  PivotTables based on relational data may still be created using the more common methods of directly connecting to the relational data or importing into an Excel sheet.

Support for Pattern Fills

Pattern fills for shape objects has been deprecated in favor of Picture and Texture fills.  Existing files will appear the same when loaded.  The ability to create new shapes with the previous pattern fills has been deprecated as part of the new drawing capabilities.

Alternate Navigation Keys in Excel 4 files

Excel 4 files had the ability to store a setting that enabled Alternate Navigation Keys when the files were opened in previous versions of Excel.  We are not carrying that setting forward with the new file formats.  Opening files with this setting will not enable Alternate Navigation Keys.  You may still enable Alternate Navigation Keys using the Excel settings for an individual user.

Sound Notes

The ability to add and play sound notes in cells was removed several versions ago, but the sound was still persisted in the file format.  We will now remove the sound note when opening such a file in Excel 2007.

PS Updated “opened but not saved list” to correct typo.