Microsoft Excel (or simply, “Excel”) is a spreadsheet application built by Microsoft, which is a part of Microsoft Office (or “Office”) application. Initially called Multiplan in 1982, there are various versions of Microsoft Excel running in Windows platform. Among them are:
- Excel 97 (or version 8.0), released in 1997 as a part of Office 97
- Excel 2000 (or version 9.0), released in 1999 as a part of Office 2000
- Excel 2002 (or version 10.0), released in 2001 as a part of Office XP
- Excel 2003 (or version 11.0), released in 2003 as a part of Office 2003
- Excel 2007 (or version 12.0), released in 2007 as a part of Office 2007
- Excel 2010 (or version 14.0), released in 2010 as a part of Office 2010
To avoid ambiguity over which version of Microsoft Excel being used on this blog, Excel 2007 is chosen. It is not the latest one (at the time of the writing, Excel 2010 is the most current one), but it supports most features that the latest version has to offer. Yet, it’s also the first version of Excel that introduces Ribbon interface. Hence, whenever Microsoft Excel is mentioned, this always refers to Excel 2007.
- It tightly integrates with Windows Operating System and other MS Office applications. There are also several versions that run on Macintosh. Though not officially supported, the use of emulators, such as WinE, adds the possibility to run MS Office and ultimately, Excel in Linux platform.
- It provides a clear, easy-to-understand workspace through an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI). The GUI has seen a dramatic change from menu-driven (for Excel 2003 and earlier) to Ribbon interface (for Excel 2007 and later).
- It supports script or “macro” programming through Visual Basic for Application. Thus this extends the Excel capability to handle specific tasks. For a user with no programming skill, repetitive tasks such as printing a draft copy, taking a peek of printing layout, can be automated by recording a sequence of steps in the macro. This actually equals to writing programming scripts “on-the fly” in the background.
- It gets backed up by plentiful and resourceful Support. This ranges from pressing F1 button for Help window to obtaining software updates online. Community forums, user discussions, and technical assistance are all available as well.
- It supports web platform. Documents made in Excel can be converted to web pages (HTML, XML, etc) and uploaded to a site. Alternatively, through Office Web Apps, documents can be stored, displayed online or embedded to another site.