Businesses can use Excel for virtually any purpose including maintaining the company’s budget, various records, employee rosters and data, projected business in the pipeline, and countless other uses. The power of Excel and its built-in data aggregation, charting, and formulas is indispensable for any business. If you’re a business looking to make sense of and organize your data, Excel is an excellent tool to add to your toolbox. Bonus: If you’re a business owner in the U.S., you can likely write off the expense of Microsoft Excel and Office 365 so talk to your tax accountant.
For personal use, it’s just as handy. I find myself using Microsoft Excel daily for anything from our family budget to keeping track of holiday gifts. Similarly, if you find yourself needing some organization in your family’s personal finances or even just want a great way to track your weight loss journey, entering personal data into Excel allows you to secure important information with the ability to display and analyze it in virtually any way you desire.
User-friendly solutions for complex problems
Whether you’re crunching numbers for business or personal use, Microsoft Excel holds the lead position in the spreadsheet software market.
Excel walks the fine line of being user-friendly enough for basic applications like budgets, while remaining robust enough to impress even the most skilled numbers junkie. Some of the most commonly used features include formatting the spreadsheet cells to whatever size necessary, freezing title panes so as users scroll they can still see the title of the rows, as well as basic Microsoft Office functionality with custom font sizes, colors, highlighting, format painter, etc.
One feature I find helpful in both business and personal life is the “AutoSum” feature where users can highlight a column of data, hit the AutoSum button, and Excel will automatically add the rows together, providing you with the sum at the bottom. I like to use this for our monthly budget, vacation and holiday expense forecasting, and expense tracking for my business.
Another excellent feature is the ability to highlight a section of data and apply a filter using the “Sort & Filter” option. This gives users the ability to sort alphabetically (A to Z or Z to A), apply a custom sort, or a custom filter. This filter feature came in handy for me this week at work as I was assigning tasks in an Excel spreadsheet and afterwards, the various assignees could sort the spreadsheet by their name in the “Assigned To” column. Another great way to use this is to alphabetize various data sets such as book titles or names of people or places.
Believe it or not, Excel isn’t just for boring number crunching. With a quick click on “What’s New” within the “File” button, I discovered I could add a 3-D animal image to my spreadsheet, much to my 11-year-old daughter’s delight. If adding a 3-D flying hummingbird to the spreadsheet will make her do her 6th grade math homework, I am thrilled with this feature. Learning new and enhanced features like this show Microsoft’s commitment to innovation and remaining future-ready. The features of Microsoft Excel are seemingly endless.
The loading speed of Excel is flawless. The only likely reason it would run slowly would be due to other underlying issues on the user’s device, slowing overall system performance. From a security and privacy perspective, I wouldn’t trust my data more with any other company. Their auto-recover feature will automatically save the latest version of your spreadsheet if your device unexpectedly shuts down. Microsoft also enables document cloud syncing via Microsoft Cloud App Security.
When you’re ready to take the leap with Microsoft Excel for your business or home use, there are multiple pricing plan options for either. For home use, the most popular pricing plan is Office 365 Personal for $59.99 / year which allows you to use all Microsoft Office 365 products (including Excel) across all of your devices for one user. The website’s “best value” for family use is the Office 365 Home package for $79.99 / month which enables up to six users across your devices. For business plan options, these monthly payment options are available with an annual commitment.
Where can you run this program?
Microsoft Excel for desktop is available on Windows 10 or macOS devices. Users must have 4GB, 2GB RAM for PC and 4GB RAM for Mac. Users will also need internet access in order to download this software, however internet access is not necessary once the download is complete. Microsoft Excel Mobile is available for download on Microsoft mobile devices with a Windows 10 Mobile version 15063.0 or higher.
Is there a better alternative?
Until recently, there wasn’t a program that could compete with Microsoft Excel. However, Google Sheets is rapidly gaining on Excel with its enhanced collaboration capabilities. Google Sheets allows multiple users to edit a sheet simultaneously and easily, whereas this feature is not as effortlessly executed or available to all users. The other huge differentiator is that Google Sheets is free. Microsoft is working hard to catch up to Google Sheets’ simple user interface and ease of use. In the meantime, millennials and younger generations are finding themselves making the switch to Google Sheets, while older, more traditional generations are comfortable with tried and true Excel.
All in all, Excel remains the frontrunner in spreadsheet programs. Microsoft continues to innovate, and I believe will remain the most commonly used spreadsheet software for a while. As baby boomers and older generations continue to retire from the workforce, the ease of collaboration and cloud-enabled Google Sheets may one day reign as the go-to spreadsheet solution. Personally, I employ a hybrid approach, doing most of my data crunching within the comfortable confines of excel, with the flexibility and open-mindedness to collaborate on various projects using Google Sheets.
Should you download it?
I can’t imagine not having access to Microsoft Excel. If you’re a business comparing Microsoft Excel and Google sheets, I suggest downloading Excel if you expect to play with big businesses or any collaboration with professionals above the age of 30. Excel is what is “expected” and its immense functionality and reputation precedes itself. If you only need simple data crunching for personal use (budgets, holiday lists, etc.) then perhaps a free version of Google Sheets will best suit your needs. However, the fact that Microsoft comes mostly commonly packaged with the full Microsoft Office 365 suite of products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, Access, OneDrive, and Skype), makes having an O365 subscription a no-brainer. Google Docs and Sheets may one day totally displace Microsoft Word and Excel, but I don’t believe today is that day.