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Excel 2010 – The 10,000 ft. View

Before we begin our whirlwind tour of all things Excel, I thought I’d give you a quick glance at the things we’ve done.  The “table of contents†if you will. That way you’ll have an idea of what to expect in the coming weeks, and I hope it gives you a sense of the amount of work we’ve put into this release. 

Many of our investments in this release are a continuation of the goals and vision that started in the 2007 release.  A few examples:

  • Excel 2007 debuted brand new conditional formatting features and a revamped charting engine.  In Excel 2010 we have continued to innovate in the area of data visualization with features like sparklines, improved data bars, better chart UI, cross-sheet conditional formatting, improved PivotChart interactivity, and more.
  • Business Intelligence continues to be a strong focus area for us, and you will see a number of innovations in this space, perhaps most notably the “slicers†feature visible in all the Excel 2010 demo videos released over the last few days.  Excel expands its role as the best BI client by introducing such features as OLAP write-back, support for dynamic sets, fast search in filter dialogs, and more.  We also worked with the SQL team in developing project Gemini.
  • In 2007 we extended Excel to the web and in 2010 you will see we have made significant strides with the Excel Web App, bringing many of the core features and the look and feel of the Excel you know to your favorite browser.  The Excel Web App also brings with it the ability for multiple users to edit the same spreadsheet simultaneously.
  • We heard loud and clear that our customers expect Excel to be fast, responsive, and able to take advantage of the latest and greatest hardware. This led to a number of innovations in Excel 2007 such as multi-threaded calculation.  In Excel 2010 we have continued that trend with strategic improvements in a number of key areas (e.g. file load, charting) that make Excel feel more snappy overall.  And, as you may have heard, we’re also releasing a 64-bit version of Excel, which allows Excel to address more memory than the current 2 GB limitation.
  • The heart of any spreadsheet app is its calculation engine.  In this release we did work to improve the accuracy of some of our math, financial, and statistical functions, and we added a few new functions along the way. I am also happy to announce that we are shipping a new version of Solver.

In addition to building on the work we started in 2007, we took a close look at all areas of Excel and made some new investments where we saw a clear customer need.  Most notably, we made a number of improvements in programmability, such as closing the gap between XLM and VBA, enabling UDFs to run asynchronously, improving macro recording support, and enabling new integration scenarios with High Performance Computing clusters.

On top of all the Excel innovation, there were a number of improvements made across the Office suite, such as Backstage, better graphics and media editing support, and much more.  I may touch on these topics from time to time, but most of this will get covered in the Microsoft Office 2010 Engineering blog.  To really get the full view of all changes in Excel, make sure to also check out that blog as well.

So, there’s the 10,000 foot view.  It’s by no means a complete list.  As we get into the meat of things we’ll uncover lots of other areas where improvements were made.

Ready to start?  In the next post we’ll talk about the work we did in sparklines.