We are the Microsoft Excel team - Ask Us Anything!
<Edit> We are bringing this AMA session to a close. We will scrub through any remaining top questions in the next few days.
THANK YOU for all the great questions, looking forward to our next AMA.
Hello from the Microsoft Excel team! We are very excited for our 3rd AMA. After some cool product announcements this week we thought you might have some questions for us.
We are the team that designs, implements, and tests Excel & Power BI. We have 20+ people in the room with a combined 400+ years of product knowledge. Our engineers and program managers with deep experience across the product primed and ready to answer any of your questions.
Want to see what is new in Excel, check out this recording from the Microsoft Ignite session What is new in Excel.
We'll start answering questions at 9:30 AM PST / 12:30 EDT and continue until 10:30 AM PST.
After this AMA, you may have future help type questions that come up. You can still ask these normal Excel questions in the /r/excel subreddit.
Excel resources and feature requests: Excel Community | Excel Feedback | Excel Blog
The post can be verified here on Twitter
- the Excel Team
Not sure, maybe volatile functions or an add-in / code that is running?
Do you miss me?!
Some days, but fortunately they let you out of the Microsoft Archives some days and we get to see you around campus. -Ben[Microsoft]
I miss having fun with my old boss, when I'd use VBA to have you randomly do things to him while he was working. Smitty [MSFT]
I do miss your friend the hoverbot. -Eric [Microsoft]
Why does Excel autofit text box (resize shape to fit text) not work for new text boxes created using Office 365?
Oops, looks like this is a bug. Thanks for reporting, we will look at this right away - Sanjay[Microsoft]
What's the biggest mistake (or regret) thats happened within development?
Taking out u/Clippy_Office_Asst -Michael[Microsoft]
Can you create an option to prevent CSV files opening and dropping the leading zeros?
We hear you, and are investigating making this option easier. We'd love if you could vote for this request that helps us with planning.
It is possible to do this today using the Get Data feature. Go to Data tab of ribbon -> from text/csv -> choose your file from Explorer -> click Edit to go to the Query Editor -> under Applied Steps delete Changed Type (to remove the autoformat to number). From the ribbon, press on "Close and Load". Use Get Data to load the file after that - Excel will remember to load the same transforms applied to this file in the future so it will "just work". - Urmi [Microsoft]
Hello from the Mod Team at /r/excel!
Will you ever integrate other languages, such as python, into Excel, to complement VBA?
Also, will SQL be integrated better into Excel? The current query viewer is poor, compared to other environments.
Hi Mod Team, thanks for all your hard work!
Lots of options here so folks are aware.. there're several ways to use Python with Excel today already using great open source (including Pandas!) and partner solutions, and through the Microsoft Graph. We also announced ability for Excel to call out to Azure Machine Learning models that could host R or Python within them.
We're working hard to extend the programmability surface area to make sure developers can build very rich solutions that run across platforms, and have been releasing these every month.
For scripting in other languages, yes, this is something we're exploring. Would love the feedback on our User Voice site: http://excel.uservoice.com.
Thanks! - Ash (Microsoft)
I'll let others reply on the future plans, but for the sake of completeness Excel already has two more built-in languages: a really old XLM language on macro sheets and a new and powerful M language used by Get & Transform Data. Also you can use Excel from most languages like C# or even PowerShell via interop. - Alex [MSFT]
What are your favourite examples of people using Excel for unusual things?
One of my favorites support requests contained a business justification of "this issue is delaying the space shuttle launch". -Ben[Microsoft]
I used it to calculate a nice curve for the top of the fence I built in my back yard. I plotted the natural heights of the posts, and then did a 5th order polynomial fit, and then adjusted the fence height to that curve. -Jeff[Microsoft]
Pics or it didn't happen ...
For real. This needs to be seen.
Ok, ok. I can get you a pic of the fence tomorrow (I don't typically carry around pics of my fence on my phone). I might still have the spreadsheet I used. -Jeff[Microsoft]
Someone once did an AC/DC video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vs2XUffK-1w Smitty [MSFT]
Tracking of pinewood derby results, complete with finish line sensors pushing data directly into Excel spreadsheet :-) -- Alex [MSFT]
Here are a few examples from the Excel Blog. I love the Excel RPG! Creative users of Excel - Carlos [Microsoft]
Middle school STEM Education using real-time data streaming to Excel! https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/education/education-workshop/ -Johnnie[Microsoft]
Why can't the auto-scientific notation default be disabled?
I know that it can be frustrating entering values and having this happen. We are investigating what we can do to make this better. You can help by Voting for this issue. For now, you can select a range and format as text prior to entering the bar codes / id numbers. -Eric [Microsoft]
Is there a way to key into a cell with the writing prompt at the end of the text already in there, so you can add on to it instead of overwriting it?
Edit: Glad there's more people like me.
Yes you can, using F2 shortcut.
Always been curious, why do column width and row height use different units for measurements, with the pixels in parenthesis? What even are the units? If you want a cell to be square or any certain ratio, you need to do it based on the pixels.
It's complicated. The units for column width are characters. Row heights are in points. Here's a good article about how Excel determines column widths. - Steve [Microsoft]
Is it true that the Excel logo is an X (and a small L) instead of an E, to avoid this?
The Excel logo has been an X and an L longer than these other products have been around. -Eric[Microsoft]
When are we going to be able to play Doom on Excel?
As soon as we track down that copy of Excel 95 someone took to "check something really quick" :-) - Alex [MSFT]
In order to get Couath / Collab working, we had to deprioritize playing Doom in Excel. Maybe an Add-in will be made? - Michael [Microsoft]
Thanks for doing the AMA. I have a question about a VERY simple yet useful feature that magically disappeared for recent versions.
I have 2 spreadsheets open side by side. I highlight several cells and get the 'sum' of the numbers, which shows in the bottom Status bar. I click onto the second spreadsheet to type that number. The sum in the Status bar below disappears from the first spreadsheet.
This used to never happen and whatever I had highlighted would remain in the taskbar at the bottom while I clicked the other spreadsheet. This would help me transfer new data from one spreadsheet to another, but now I need to manually add a =sum() in the first spreadsheet so that it shows it physically.
Are you on Windows? Open your first file. Then open a separate Excel process by going to Start > Run and type excel /x Then open the second file. Let me know if it works! -Dave [Microsoft]
How large is the Excel team compared to the other product teams (ie. Word, PowerPoint, Access, etc.)?
We are the XL team ;-)
Have you ever considered integrating excel formulas into other Microsoft Office tables? Whenever I work on a table in OneNote or Word I find myself wanting to type =sum()
Word has some basic formula capabilities ...
Do you guys have a preference internally between A1 and R1C1?
Also, what new features are you most excited to introduce into Excel that you're able to talk about?
Depends on what you mean by "preference". Internally, references are parsed to just row and column numbers, and so the distinction between R1C1 and A1 goes away. It's only when parsing formulas or displaying them back to the user that A1 versus R1C1 applies. -Jeff[Microsoft]
We recently announced Insights and new data types coming to Excel beginning late this year. Insights helps identify trends from data in your worksheet as a starting place for exploration. New data types like stocks and demographics will also be added to Excel for easier analysis. More information can be found here:
https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Resources-and-Community/What-is-new-in-Excel-Ignite-2017-announcements/m-p/117029#M131 -Jen [Microsoft]
Ah I see. I meant when you have to write a worksheet formula, or a formula in VBA, do you have a preference between A1 and R1C1?
I personally always use A1, as it is the default. The only advantage I can think of for the R1C1 format is the ability to specify relative position. For instance, RC[-1] refers to the cell in the same row and one column to the left of your current cell. But really, I pretty much never use R1C1. -Jeff[Microsoft]
When will the Mac version get multiprocessor support?
Thanks for the question - we are actively working on this, but you can add your vote to support it anyway on Excel.UserVoice.com.
- Steve [Microsoft]
Thank you for all your great questions, we are out of time for now.
We really love doing AMA's and will look forward to the next one. We will make sure to check back and try and answer your questions.
The Microsoft Excel Team
Let me share some useful links that might help you.
•Reddit •Excel Community •Excel What Is New •Excel Feedback •Excel Help
1. Any plans for Cortana?
2. What are the major changes in Excel 2019?
3. Have you guys seen this?
Thank you, appriciate the AMA
- it is a great idea (a partner already created a prototype).
We have not fully locked the feature list yet, but we will post it to our Excel Blog as soon as we do
Yes, have you seen this
What's the best way for me to become the 'Excel Guy' at work?
1. do vlookup and pivots 2. ???? 3. profit as the Excel Guy
I'm betting if you make sure to mention your love of Excel in every conversation you have at work you will quickly become the "Excel Guy". Most people I have found who become the expert at work find out how to create useful spreadsheets that get shared around the office. O r they help others use automation to avoid tedious repetitive tasks. -Ben[Microsoft]
I learned a lot about Excel charts from reading Jon Peltier's blog: https://peltiertech.com/ - Alex [MSFT]
Excel Training You can also use our Take a Tour template (File-> New) and of course /r/excel - Sanjay[Microsoft]
What is the most amazing thing you've done with Excel?
At a different Job during my 2nd and 3rd year in University, I used Excel and Geographical Information Systems (GIS software) to detect and prove fraud. The calculations within Excel took 10 minutes because of how large the workbooks were. – Michael [Microsoft]
A long time ago, not very far away, I analyzed my Halo 2 data in Excel and it was popular for 15 mins.
In a prior life, I did a stint as an analyst within a corporate Fraud Investigation Unit. Using Excel, we identified a conflict of interest situation where an employee of the accounts payable department was hiring a family member for work. We found this by using a combination of Text and Lookup functions (INDEX/MATCH/VLOOKUP) comparing addresses and phone numbers between employees and vendors. This resulted in the employee getting fired and having to pay back multiple thousands of dollars back to the company. It wasn’t necessarily a very complex workbook, but it had a significant impact. -Carlos [Microsoft]
That's a tough one. I built an interactive mapping tool for a large shipping company that used shapes to map which ships were in which berths/when, and how big they were. Smitty [MSFT]
VLookup or Index Match?
INDEX/MATCH - Once you get used to it, you can write them almost as fast as VLOOKUP, and the combination is more powerful/efficient. Smitty [MSFT]
I know it's not the intended purpose of excel, but excel games made otherwise boring days behind my desk wonderful. So thank you for that.
What excel features both built-in or not do you wish more people knew about/or knew how to use?
I love seeing what kind of creative things people come up with in Excel! It makes learning it so much more fun.
For features, mine is PivotTables, especially creating table relationships with the Data Model. Smitty [MSFT]
Thanks for making such an awesome tool! I use it every day. A couple questions:
What are the most interesting or strange uses of Excel you've seen?
What feature or function would make the biggest difference in peoples lives if only they knew it existed?
Any chance of an update to the VBA editor? I'm not talking anything crazy, but line numbers for reference would be nice. I maintain lots of old spreadsheets, so I won't be transitioning away from VBA anytime soon unfortunately.
Thank you for your comments! Answers to your questions below:
We have a few answers for this question already here
My personal favorite is the new Get & Transform (aka Power Query) functionality, I think this would make a huge difference. We know from our research, that a lot of time is spent cleaning and shaping data before being able to analyze it, Get & Transform makes this super easy. You can learn more here. Other key ones include PivotTables, Conditional Formatting, and a handful of functions (e.g. IF, TEXTJOIN, INDEX/MATCH/VLOOKUP)
We love VBA, and we appreciate the broad user base, and impact it continues to have in the world. That said, we have nothing to announce in this space right now. For more context here is a link to an in-depth perspective about VBA and how we think about extensibility in general See VBA.
Will there be another revamp to the user interface for Excel like what we saw from 2003 to 2007? Also any plans to incorporate big data analysis tools into Excel?
We continue to evaluate complexity vs simplicity for our interfaces and users are most welcome to request new changes through our user voice site.
For Big data analysis , we would point towards our new Get and Transform functionality that should easily help you analyze your big data.
Why is the print button hidden in the File screen? Why isn't it on the Home toolbar, or next to the Save icon at the very top?
You can add the Print button (or any other button) by customizing the Quick Access Toolbar (that little area near the save icon). Click on the little down-arrow on the right of the QAT in the most recent versions, or right-click on the QAT to customize it. Check out: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Customize-the-Quick-Access-Toolbar-43fff1c9-ebc4-4963-bdbd-c2b6b0739e52
To explain the reasoning, when we re-organized the commands into the Ribbon, the idea was that we would put the document-level actions into the File space, and not into the Ribbon (including Home). - Charlie [Microsoft]
Thanks so much for doing this AMA. Have you guys thought of a way to restructure the sheet-to-sheet navigation on workbooks with multiple worksheets to be able to more easily view all of the worksheets and jump to them (I'm thinking like about the way in Windows you have that neat-o cascading windows view using a the WindowsKey-Tab combination)?
Thanx for the question! Btw, have you considered trying our "Window View" functionality...https://support.office.com/en-us/article/View-two-or-more-worksheets-at-the-same-time-1DEED3DA-A297-4260-98AA-A7B2D90C81AB?
I think you are on the Mac? If so, open your files. Then go to Window>Arrange>Horizontal. Then press Command, ~ to move focus between the files. Let us know if it works! -Dave [Microsoft]
Will it ever be possible to include VBA functionality in the collaborative Excel Online version?
When building sheets for clients who use workbooks in a collaborative nature it is very restrictive as no VBA function will work.
What's the weirdest bug you've had to fix?
I did not personally fix this one, but Excel 2007 displaying 850*77.1 as 100000 was as weird as they come. - Alex [MSFT]
What was the reason behind the bug? Seems like something to do with a short?
The error was in assembly module with IIRC AX register being used instead of AH, so, in essence, you are correct. - Alex [MSFT]
When can the Mac versions natively support multi users? I know the online version does, but can we see this functionality come through on Office 360, or Dropbox? My business relies on a few guys using the same spreadsheet a lot and one sheet in particular uses macros once a week to update it. Seeing live updates would help us not move away from Excel. We'd really hate to! Thanks!
Their standard answer for “when will the Mac version support…” (anything) is “we’re working on it!”
Im old enough to remember when the Mac version got all the good features first. Sad that it’s basically forgotten now.
I work on the Excel for Mac team and we are definitely listening to customer feedback and getting all features built into Mac Excel. You can opt into the Insiders Program, and get the Fast Insiders update which has all the new features from UserVoice with status of "Started". So it's definitely getting a lot better and very soon! -Sangeeta [Microsoft]
To see how coauthoring works in Excel for Mac, you can opt into the Insiders Program, and get the Fast Insiders update. Please remember to send us your feedback by clicking on the Smiley-face button near the top corner of the app. -Steve [Microsoft]
Can you get multiprocessor support in the Fast Insiders builds soon? Not being able to use the 16 threads available on my Mac Pro in a DATA CALCULATING app, over 20 years after multiprocessing became common on Mac OS/Mac OS X/OS X/macOS, is ridiculous. (And 12 years since it became standard on every new Mac sold.)
Please see the question regarding multi-threaded calculation - Steve [Microsoft]
We have great news about this. It's coming soon, and the latest Insiders Fast preview allows you to work together on the same workbook already. You can read more about the update here - Major update to Office for Mac. -Steve [Microsoft]
Any new features for Data Analytics??
Take a look at this session from Ignite, we covered some of the new analytics capabilities there.
- Will T [Microsoft]
When do you plan on providing active directory authentication to Azure Data Warehouse?
We're working on this! It'll show up in Excel through 'Get and Transform Data' in the future, you'll probably see it in Power BI first.
- Will T [Microsoft]
What are the plans for introducing new functionality to non 365 versions of Excel? It seems like some of the new functions are available in Excel 2016 for 365 but not in the retail/OEM 2016.
New features are continually added to Office 365 subscriptions and perpetual versions of Office (e.g., Office 2010, Office 2013, and Office 2016) receive bug fixes and security patches but no new features. We recently announced another version of perpetual, Office 2019, will be released in the coming year which will have additional features beyond Office 2016. This feature set will be announced closer to the release. -Jen [Microsoft]
Are there any plans to scale the computing power to be able to handle big data analytics? (to a similar scale of databases and competitor products like Alteryx)
Have you tried farming out your computations to HPC: https://blogs.office.com/en-us/2010/02/08/calculating-excel-models-on-an-hpc-cluster/ ? - Alex [MSFT]
Yes! We already have capabilities in this area - take a look at what you can do through Power Query / 'Get and Transform Data' and Power Pivot. Excel and Power BI are certainly planning more investment for analytics so stay tuned...
- Will T [Microsoft]
Are there any plans to change how the clipboard is handled? It would be nice if making a small change to a cell didn't empty the clipboard.
Great News! Earlier this year we made the "Keep the Copy" feature available to Office 365 users. Now most edits in Excel don't remove the copy marquee. -Eric[Microsoft]
Hey guys, I LOVE Excel and have been using it since '97! If you were to look back to Excel '97, what's your biggest "I can't believe this feature didn't exist back then" in comparison to today's version?
Mine is definitely big grid; 65,536 x 256 is so limiting. - Alex [MSFT]
'95 for me! I'd have to go with be PivotTable relationships with the Data Model. It essentially replaces what I used to spend hours a week on in Access or SQL Server. Smitty [MSFT]
How much of Charles Simonyi is still in the current code base of Excel? We have heard so much about his "hungarian notation" and such. Are there traces of his ideas still lurking in modern Excel code?
Well, we certainly still use Hungarian notation. Other than that, I haven't noticed his alias in the code at all. -Jeff[Microsoft]
What's for dinner?
Waffles. They are grid-shaped. - Michael [MSFT]
Everytime I open a .xlsm file, my formula settings are switched to calculate manually. Why? When I go back to a normal .xlsx file, the setting is stuck on manual (until I go and change it back).
I'd love to know if this was intentional, and if so for what reason? And (most importantly) if I can do anything about it. Thank you!
The setting is saved with the file, if you switch it back to automatic and save it should stay in automatic. But because it is a Macro file it could be there is some code that sets it back to manual. See this support document for more info.
Hi Guys! Thanks for doing this AMA. My question is are there any features that you wish Excel had but it doesn’t yet or aren’t possible to include?
Yes, we love all the features users as us on UserVoice. Good news is that we are working very hard to include them.
In future versions of excel will there be the option to use Multiple Document Interface (MDI) instead of Single Document Interface (SDI) ? I have a very complex model that a consultant developed for us in Excel 2007 that no longer opens correctly when our organization switched to Excel 2013. The macros developed for it relied on the MDI and the switch to SDI stopped them from working.
I have seen other many other users with the same type of issue, but so far there has not been many answers or support on this issue.
Thanx for the question Joe! As it stands, there are no known plans to introduce MDI, that said feel free to add your vote on https://excel.uservoice.com/.
You may also want to consider reviewing "Consideration for VBA code" in the following article https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/vba/excel-vba/articles/programming-for-the-single-document-interface-in-excel
How often do you guys call something excellent?
Everything is either "excellent!" or "bogus!" -Jeff[Microsoft]
Thank you for keeping keyboard shortcuts, though these do seem to be less and less user friendly with each major upgrade. When designing the interface, please try to make all major choices easy to use with keyboard only. (Fonts and colors, etc. are fine for mouse work).
Keyboard shortcuts are very important and we don't make changes lightly, so please let us know specifically which shortcuts have become less user-friendly so we can understand your comment better. - Steve [Microsoft]
How in tarnation can I apply the same pattern of formulas to each row or culumn?
Could you elaborate? Filling right, filling down, or ctrl-entering might be the answer, but I would need to understand more details of what you're trying to do. -Jeff[Microsoft]
Why do you torture us like this? WHY??
View HistoryShare Link