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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.
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 formulas”
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:
The following formats may be opened, but not saved to in Excel 2007:
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:
What are we doing with Script Tags:
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:
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.
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.
No support for 123's .WK4 format means I won't need to worry about getting XL12 at work for the next few years. Same situation as A User: lots of archived historical .WK4 files. FWIW, where I work 123 was still in daily use until last Fall.
Since you already have code that can open all these other file formats and save them in XLS file format, you could write a standalone utility to convert files to XLS format without having to alter XL12 itself. Or have the senior execs bought big stakes in DataViz?
Also, dropping the OLAP cube wizard is questionable. It's the type of fature that any sensible person would realize would be rarely used by a tiny subset of Excel users/developers (like the FFT data analysis tool), but when needed is very useful if not essential. Does this mean that local .CUB files will also be deprecated, so pivot tables tied to OLAP sources can't change when offline?
A thought about formats--
What happens if users replace their Office 2003 installs with 2007? They may find themselves in for a surprise, staring at old files that they can no longer open and have no way to convert.
Reinstalling 2003 would provide a means of migration, but it is generally a bad idea to install old products over/alongside newer ones. (And many deployments do not give users the media, license rights, and privileges necessary to do that.)
Possible solution: provide a standalone obsolete format to XLS converter. The code already exists for this--you need only separate it out of Office 2003. The converter would be a runtime Excel 2003 with all features removed except legacy format import and XLS save.
David or Eric, or anyone!
* Microsoft Excel 97- Excel 2003 & 5.0/95
I must be miss understanding, are you saying that i cant save a file in office format 97-2003?
So if i make a 2007 file ca only be used in 2007?
this cant be right?
Harlan, now all they need is to find those other two guys who still use .wk4
...Arhhh! Excellent! Thanks for clearing that up, didn't think i would be the case.
It would be ashame to lose the ability to open up old .wk* files. If this functionality could be provided either as a downloaded standalone utility or add-in, that would be much preferable to not being able to do so at all.
Unfortunately, old files in these formats still exist out there...
Writing back to SharePoint is a big loss. You said Access is the one to do it, but most people don't have Access.
Access is a database tool, and we use SharePoint list since it is much more lightweight. Loosing write back in Excel is a big loss for SharePoint.
What about Draw Borders feature?
I am still waiting for Maps to be brought back after it was dropped from Excel 97 -> 2000 :-(
I really dont want to buy Map Point
Nice idea about removing SharePoint from Excel. And thanks for the heads-up! Now that we've invested a lot of infrastructure on this feature, it's good to have it removed.
Now we must purchase a more expensive Office version to do the same functionality and train everyone on Access. The benefits as I see it are that our IT staff has job security (or they will be fired for investing in an obsolete technology) and it helps the Microsoft bottom line.
Boh Redd: there may not be many daily 123 users left, but there are millions of archived .WK? files in most medium to large size companies. There may not be any need to WRITE .WK? files any more, but there's still need to OPEN them from time to time. Consider legal discovery.
All: no one can say whether offline .CUB files would still be supported? Or open existing ones still supported but no facility to create new ones?
Francis, Colin - Office will make available a bulk file converter for the conversion of files. I don't have any additional details at this time.
Kojiishi, Extortion - Regarding writeback to SharePoint; You cannot create new read/write Lists linked to SharePoint in Excel 12, but existing lists will remain read/write when kept in the existing file formats.
Harlan - Excel will continue to support connection to offline .CUB files. We are deprecating the interface for creating .CUB files for relational data in Excel.