Microsoft Excel

A computer application that is capable of quick calculations, Pivot Tables, graphing, and macro programming (among many others)

What is Microsoft Excel?

Microsoft Excel is an interactive computer application developed by Microsoft for the Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS operating systems. It is a spreadsheet system that is capable of quick arithmetic calculations, Pivot Tables, graphing functions, and macro programming that make it indispensable in an analyst’s skillset. It comprises a tabular format of rows and columns and is very handy in organizing, processing, and analyzing data.

 

Microsoft Excel

 

Summary

  • Microsoft Excel is an interactive computer application developed by Microsoft.
  • It is a spreadsheet system that is capable of quick arithmetic calculations, Pivot Tables, graphing functions, and macro programming that make it indispensable in an analyst’s skillset.
  • The program is equipped with pre-installed functions that allow financial, statistical, or engineering-based analysis.

 

History of Microsoft Excel

In 1982, Lotus 1-2-3 was launched and sold by the Lotus Development Corporation. Lotus 1-2-3 is a now-discontinued spreadsheet program. In 1985, Microsoft developed the initial version of Excel for Apple Inc.’s Macintosh computer. Due to the notable processing speed and graphics, Excel quickly grew in popularity.

Lotus 1-2-3’s incompatibility with Macintosh computers at the time, allowed Microsoft to secure a reliable clientele base among Macintosh users.

In 1987, the development and release of the Windows operating system allowed for the new version of Excel to run on computers using the operating system. It resulted in increased traction for the program. Due to the slowness of the competitor (Lotus) to release compatible programs for the Windows operating system, Excel was able to secure its place in the market and grow its market share, thereby allowing the program to dominate the early 1990s.

The more recent versions of Excel were accompanied by updates that included 3D graphs and charts, various shortcuts, toolbars, drawing and outlining tools, and other computerized features. To highlight the year of the product’s release and provide clear differentiation for updates varying from one version of Excel to another, Microsoft opted to change Excel’s name format and include the year of release in the name. The change took place beginning in 1995.

The release of Office XP in 2003 was accompanied by Excel 2002 and came with a feature that allowed for the retrieval and recovery of Excel data in a situation where the computer may have crashed or switched off unexpectedly.

The later versions of Excel featured new interface designs, sharing abilities between different Microsoft products such as PowerPoint and Word, improved chart generation and graphics, improved data sharing, improved security, formula development, and typing and filtering.

 

Features of Microsoft Excel

As with other spreadsheet software, Microsoft Excel comes with all the expected basic features. The program comes with a grid of rows that are numbered and columns that are identified through letters, which allow users to organize and manipulate data. The program is equipped with pre-installed functions that allow for financial, statistical, or engineering-based analysis.

Microsoft Excel also allows the creation and insertion of different charts and graphs in 2D and 3D (limited). Through the program’s Pivot Table and Scenario manager functions, users can put data into sections and view the data dependencies present.

The software also houses a limited programming feature through VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). VBA allows for a user to make use of a wide array of numerical methods to solve equations and get the results displayed on the sheet.

Excel 2016 included 484 functions, with 360 existing before the development of Excel 2010. The functions of Excel fall under 14 categories.

 

Common Uses of Microsoft Excel for Businesses

There are many uses for the Microsoft Excel program; they include (but are not limited to):

  • Office operations management: Microsoft Excel allows businesses to manage their operation by allowing users to retain information on appointments, planning and scheduling, recording and organizing previous transactions, etc.
  • Bookkeeping: Excel also caters to the bookkeeping and accounting needs of businesses. Budgeting and forecasting, burn-rate computations and expense tracking, financial report generation, and loan amortization schedules can be done through Excel.
  • Data visualization: The spreadsheet application allows the creation and use of graphs and charts to provide visualized information.
  • Data collection and organization: Through its ability to capture and retain data, Microsoft Excel provides a solution for businesses to record data, such as inventory and invoices, in an organized manner.
  • Mathematical computations: Excel comes with a built-in ability to support most mathematical computations.

Additional Resources

CFI is a global provider of financial modeling courses and of the FMVA Certification. CFI’s mission is to help all professionals improve their technical skills. If you are a student or are looking for a career change, the CFI website has a multitude of free resources to help you jumpstart your Career in Finance. If you seek to improve your technical skills check out some of our most popular courses. Below are some additional resources for you to further explore:

  • Careers 
  • CFI’s Most Popular Courses
  • All CFI Resources
  • Finance Terms

 

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