Introducing Excel 2013

This blog post is brought to you by Jane Liles Group Program Manager for the Excel team. With this post she kicks off a brand new blog series introducing all the features we have added across Excel for the release of Office 2013.

Greetings from the Excel team hallway…

By now you’ve hopefully tuned into our Office Next blog, which provides all-up view of our latest release for Office, and seen some articles on the web. Today I have the privilege of sharing a high-level view of Excel 2013, a release that arrives on the heels of Excel’s 25th anniversary. The team has been working hard to deliver the next version, and we’re excited to be able to share Excel 2013 Preview with you and hear your feedback.

Excel is a powerful spreadsheet and data analysis application, with hundreds of capabilities that can help you organize and make sense of the data and numbers in your life. We’ve made several investments in Excel 2013 to empower our users by bringing these and more capabilities to you in ways that are easy, intuitive, and enjoyable. But before I tell you about where we focused our efforts, I’d like to share a little about how we got there.

It Begins with Our Customers…

When we began planning for Excel 2013, we started by doing a ton of customer research. Yes, we do this every release, but this time our goal was really to cast the net wide and get a sense of the full spectrum of users, from the spreadsheet dabblers to the analysts and “super-crazy power user” (you probably know a few of these Excel gurus). We visited small businesses, home offices, “consumers”, and large organizations, and observed Excel users in action. We conducted surveys and focus groups, mined the blogosphere, interviewed people 1-on-1, and consulted our MVPs, friends and families. And we listened to feedback from past releases. Then we took some time to wallow in the resulting data and do some analysis (go figure — we’re the Excel team, we like to analyze.). The insights we gained from this customer research played a major role in our decisions about where to invest.

We proceeded into development with 4 major areas of investment, with one consistent theme across all of them: empowering our users. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Excel is a powerful application – and many of our users have become experts at harnessing that power and turning that into results: lists, spreadsheets, reports, business solutions, in-depth analyses, dashboards, etc.

Enjoyable Experience, With More Smarts Built in

clip_image004One of the things we learned through our customer research was that while many people know that Excel has a wealth of capabilities, they can sometimes feel intimidated by all of the options available and aren’t sure how to use them. So this time we made it a priority to provide a cleaner experience that puts the focus on your content and offers features that are appropriate to what you’re doing — you’ll see this in both the Excel desktop client (“traditional Excel”) and the Excel Web App. We also provided some additional guidance to show you what’s possible, and to help you make your data do and look like what you want, more quickly, with less hunting around and trial-and error. Features like Quick Analysis, Flash Fill, Chart Recommendations, and PivotTable Recommendations are examples of this type of guidance. Do you have trouble getting charts to look right? We’ve made it easier to create the right chart, and customize it with a couple of clicks. We’ll go into more details about all of these in future posts. Do you use multiple monitors and wish you could have an Excel workbook open on each of them? Well, with Excel 2013 you finally can!

Powerful, Integrated Business Intelligence Capabilities

clip_image006For Excel 2013 we decided to make major investments in BI, and in particular, we had a goal to make Excel a full-fledged self-service BI tool. If you have already discovered PowerPivot for Excel 2010 and SharePoint 2010, you’ll be happy to see that we’ve integrated the same tabular data model natively into Excel 2013! We’ve also included new analysis capabilities like Quick Explore, Timeline slicers, PowerPivot and Power View – yes, PowerPivot and Power View now come with Excel and integrate with the Excel experience – in the client and in the Web App via SharePoint and Excel Services. Wow! For Enterprise-scale BI, the convenience of self-service in Excel on the front end is backed by the collaboration, scalability, reliability, and compliance/control of SharePoint with Excel Services and SQL Server 2012.

There is so much to tell about BI and Excel 2013…consider this a teaser.

Excel, Everywhere You Need It to Be

clip_image008It’s important to our customers to be able to get to their Excel spreadsheets from wherever they are, on whatever device they’re using. Whether it’s from their PC at work, their laptop at home, a Mac, a tablet while on the go, or their phone, Excel users need to get to their data. For 2013 we invested in that Excel Everywhere experience by increasing our investment in Excel on tablet devices and in the browser, aiming to help users getting the most out of our SkyDrive and O365 services with enhancements to the Excel Web App and embedding capabilities, as well as the sharing and touch input experiences. More on “Excel Everywhere” in our next post…

New Office Application Model

clip_image010Do you build solutions for Excel? If so, you probably know that the world of application and solutions development has evolved significantly towards web services and live content over the past couple of years. In this release you will be able to extend Excel to include web services content by creating and embedding the new Office Apps right into Excel using simple JavaScript and HTML5– and they will work in the client and in the Web App!

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We’re eager to share everything Excel 2013 with you in more detail, and we promise that we will. Stay tuned for more posts about Excel 2013, and please try it out for yourself by going to the Office 2013 Customer Preview site!