Microsoft Excel is a long-running spreadsheet program developed by Microsoft as a part of the Microsoft Office suite of programs. Excel has been part of Microsoft's signature office suite for over twenty years.
- The ultimate, industry-standard spreadsheet program.
- Great for creating budgets, analyzing business data, doing basic accounting and more.
- Can be purchased as a one-time license or as a subscription via Office 365.
- Excel is available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.
- There is also an online version that can be used in a web browser.
- A versatile, industry-standard spreadsheet program that's loaded with features not offered by the competition.
- Compatibility. Because Excel is so widely used, you and anyone you send files to are unlikely to have issues opening them.
- There is no steep learning curve for the newer versions of Excel. It is still largely the same program that it was in 1995, so anyone who has ever used it will be familiar with how to use it now.
- Cost. Excel and the rest of Microsoft Office are very expensive. Although the Office 365 plans do lessen the cost somewhat, subscription costs do add up over time. There are cheaper or even free programs that can do nearly everything Excel can do.
- Does not have the specialized features to make it a good option for use as an accounting program. For anything larger than a very, very small business, a dedicated accounting program such as QuickBooks should be considered.
- Many users do not use or need all the features that come with Excel. The sheer amount of features can be overwhelming for some users.
Microsoft Excel continues to be the industry standard of choice when it comes to a professional grade spreadsheet program. It is a very versatile program that can do everything from creating a simple budget to handling complex statistics. In many ways, Excel has not changed substantially over the last twenty years, meaning it does not have a steep learning curve. This is largely due to how indispensable this program is, and for certain industries in particular, such as data science. The interface of Excel 2016 does not look especially different from Excel 2013. When it comes to new features, Excel has primarily added collaborative features over its last several iterations. Excel 2016 has been built specifically for collaboration and has some powerful new features such as greater cloud integration and Power Query, which allows users to pull in live data from sources such as databases and web pages. Excel is filled to the brim with features for number wonks, such as the ability to make charts and graphs from data, formulas to perform complex equations, the ability to write equations by hand and more. Microsoft offers a free trial of the program for anyone wishing to try it out. There are several purchase options, including a one-time purchase or an annual subscription to Office 365. There are different subscription levels depending on whether it will be used personally or for business as well as differing business features. You cannot subscribe to just Excel with Office 365 but Excel can be purchased on its own as a single license. However, at its steep price point ($129.99 for the Home and Student edition), it makes the most sense for most users to simply get the entire Office suite ($149.99 for the Home and Student edition).