Friday, October 29, 2021

Excel for the web: Evolution from companion app to collaboration powerhouse

There is no better day than Internet Day – today October 29 – to reflect on the significant evolution of one of Microsoft’s most successful web products – Excel for the web. We’ve come a long way and that journey has included listening to our customers, addressing your feedback, evolving to meet your needs, and making Excel for the web an effective app for your daily work in Excel. Keep reading this blog post to learn how we’ve evolved.


A few years ago, Excel for the web was primarily a companion app used for consumption, with files opened in View-only mode by default. Since then, we’ve transformed the app into a full-featured modern spreadsheeting experience. Our investments have evolved Excel for the web from a consumption app to a modern collaboration app that supports most common Excel workflows. Our goal is that people use whatever platform they prefer – web, Windows, or Mac – without worrying about being able to complete their work.


Working with Excel for the web lets you access your spreadsheets on any device with a web browser and internet connection using your favorite browser, where you probably spend much of your weekday already. You and your colleagues can work simultaneously on a cloud document with confidence that all are working on the latest and greatest version.


Our efforts to evolve Excel for the web are part of our development priority to modernize web apps in general. We’ve made major investments and have continued to close the gap with desktop as well as leading with innovation by adding features and improvements that focus on performance, reliability, authoring, and collaboration. In this blog post, I’ll spotlight a few notable improvements and features we’ve introduced to make the app even more powerful for daily work. Be sure to check them out – especially if you haven’t tried the app in a while.



Collaborate in a modern way

These days, everyone is working as a team to accomplish goals. Excel for the web has become a modern collaboration app, introducing features that allow you to work with your colleagues on your cloud spreadsheets rather than worry about version control.


We improved the co-authoring experience, where you can work simultaneously on the same spreadsheet with your colleagues (even if they are on the desktop or mobile versions of Excel) and see each other’s changes in real-time.  The Sheet Views feature enables you to sort and filter your data without being affected by others.


With Show Changes, you can now see any edits made to your spreadsheets. This includes who changed what, where, and when. You can use modern comments to leave comments, @mention, and reply to your colleagues’ comments.


Show ChangesShow Changes


Complete work with familiar Excel features

Millions of users rely on the power of Excel to help them succeed at work. This power is now available in Excel for the web. With files open for edit by default, you can write formulas more easily with colored cell references, customize cells with more colors, and format your data with cells and table styles. You can also sort by cell or font color, highlight cells with conditional formatting to visually explore and analyze your data, and apply data validation to cells.


Excel for the web also offers a better printing experience through print preview, and the ability to zoom in and out in your spreadsheet, add shapes and pictures, and work faster with familiar Excel keyboard shortcuts. You can choose between either the classic ribbon or a simplified ribbon, which offers a modern design that’s easier to use with all the existing functionality.


We made major investments so Excel for the web is more accessible, and we are also upgrading the overall look of the app to a modern look, including dialogs and task panes. While working in Excel for the web, you can increase your productivity by automating tasks and flows with Office Scripts.


In addition to adding familiar Excel features, we also make sure that all the newest and most innovative features in Excel show up on the web at the same time as the desktop, such as dynamic arrays, linked data types, and Analyze Data.


Cell and Table StylesCell and Table Styles


Benefit from faster performance and higher reliability

Performance and reliability are critical to complete daily work in Excel. Significant performance improvements in Excel for the web were introduced to support better rendering and a faster and smoother user experience by speeding tasks like loading a workbook, scrolling through a spreadsheet, selecting cells, navigating, editing, and formatting cells. Now, you can work with larger, more complex workbooks that support faster calculations.


Get insights with BI, data analysis, and data visualization features

As customers started to ask for more advanced capabilities on the web, we've invested more in business intelligence (BI), data analysis, and data visualization to support decision-making. That includes bringing an improved pivot tables experience to the web, enabling split text into columns, and supporting interactive charts so you can format a chart by directly selecting it and interacting with chart elements.

Excel also uses AI to make data analysis simpler, faster, and more intuitive with the Analyze Data feature. Simply ask questions about your data and get high-level visual summaries, trends, and patterns.




Protect sensitive data

When working in an Excel spreadsheet and sharing it with your colleagues, built-in security, such as Microsoft Information Protection (MIP), helps you feel more peace of mind. In addition, automatic labelling policies can help reduce human oversight without compromising on compliance or security.


I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about the Excel for the web evolution story. We continue to listen to our customers and add new capabilities based on their feedback. Microsoft will keep leading with innovation on the web, releasing the newest and most innovative features.


Try Excel for the web for yourself to explore all these useful features and more. Give feedback in the app by going to Help > Feedback.


Learn more and join our community

See What's new in Excel for the web and subscribe to our Excel Blog to get the latest updates. Stay connected with us and other Excel fans around the world by joining our Excel Community and following us on Twitter.




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