Microsoft Excel

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Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Office Excel (2018 – present)
Excel 5 win de.png
Excel 5 for Windows 3.1 (1994)
Basic data

developer Microsoft Corporation
Publishing year September 30, 1985
Current  version Excel 2019
operating system Windows , macOS , Windows Phone , iOS , Android (the latter three as part of the Office Mobile suite) and, since January 2015, also as a single application for tablets (preview version)
category Spreadsheet
License Proprietary
German speaking Yes
Excel product page

Microsoft Excel (abbreviated MS Excel) ( English [ ˈmaɪ.kɹoʊ.sɒft ɪkˈsel ], German mostly [ ˈɛksl̩ ] or [ ɛkˈsɛl ]) is the most widely used spreadsheet program .

Excel is part of the Microsoft Office 365 subscription and is available in the desktop version for Windows and macOS , as well as in the mobile version as an app for Android and iOS . The current single-user version (without software subscription) for both operating systems is Microsoft Excel 2019 and belongs to the Microsoft Office suite 2019 .


Microsoft Excel was the successor to Microsoft Multiplan and was first introduced in 1985 for the Apple Macintosh as a purely graphical spreadsheet . On October 31, 1987, at the same time as Windows 2.0 was released , Excel 2.0 was the first version for IBM-compatible PCs . From 1989 onwards, a Windows 2.11 runtime version was included with Excel, as Windows was still not widely used. There was also a version for the OS / 2 Presentation Manager that was ported using Windows Libraries for OS / 2 (WLO) .

Excel 3.0, presented in 1990 for Microsoft Windows 3.0 , had a toolbar for the first time and also brought numerous other innovations. A 32-bit version was available for the first time in 1994 with Excel 5.0 for Windows NT . In Microsoft Office 95, Excel 95 was given version number 7.0 because version 6 was skipped in order to achieve a standardization of the name with the other Microsoft Office programs . Excel: mac 2001 was the last version for Mac OS 8 and 9 .

Version overview

Release date designation version system Comments
September 30, 1985 Excel 1.0x 1.0 System or Macintosh
1987 Excel 1.5 1.5 system Supports multifinder
1989 Excel 2.2 2.2 system (There was no version 2.2 for Windows)
1990 Excel 3.0 3.0 system
1993 Excel 4 4.0 system
1994 Excel 5 5 system First edition for PowerPC and last for the classic m86k Macintosh.
March 15, 1998 Excel 98 8.0 System 7.5 Requires a Macintosh compatible computer with a PowerPC processor.
October 11, 2000 Excel 2001 9.0 Mac OS 8 Latest edition for classic Mac OS (later versions require at least Mac OS 8.5).
November 19, 2001 Excel vX 10 Mac OS X First edition for Mac OS X from version 10.1 ("Puma");
May 11, 2004 Excel 2004 11.0 Mac OS X Requires at least Mac OS X 10.2 ("Jaguar"); last update: 11.6.2.
January 15, 2008 Excel 2008 12.0 Mac OS X First version for Intel Macs - as universal binaries , supports both PowerPC and Intel Macs natively; no ribbon, no VBA; requires at least Mac OS X Tiger 10.4.9.
October 27, 2010 Excel 2011 14.0 Mac OS X New user interface with ribbon (Engl. Ribbon ), VBA support; requires an Intel Mac with at least Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.8.
July 9, 2015 Excel 2016 11/15 OS X The surface was adapted to the Windows version in terms of design and functionality. Requires at least OS X Yosemite (10.10).
Excel 2019 system
Release date designation version operating system Comments
November 1987 Excel 2.0 2.05 Windows 2.x and Windows / 386 including Windows 2.x runtime
1988 Excel 2.1 2.1 Windows 2.x
September 12, 1990 Excel 3.0 3.0 Windows 3.0
April 1, 1992 Excel 4.0 4.0 Windows OLE interface
1994 Excel 5.0 5.0 Windows Last version for Windows 3.1, introduction of VBA
1994 Excel 5.0 for Windows NT 5.0 Windows 32-bit Windows application
August 30, 1995 Excel 95 7.0 Windows 32-bit for Windows 95
December 30, 1996 Excel 97 8.0 Windows Last version for Windows NT 3.51; Delivery for the last time on 3½ ″ disks
January 27, 1999 Excel 2000 9.0 Windows Last version for Windows 95 , support until July 14, 2009
May 31, 2001 Excel 2002
(Microsoft Office XP)
10.0 Windows Introduction of product activation;
Last version for Windows 98 / ME / NT 4.0
November 17, 2003 Excel 2003 11.0 Windows Last version for Windows 2000 .
From this version onwards, help is only possible with an Internet connection during a standard installation.
January 30, 2007 Excel 2007 12.0 Windows New user interface with ribbon instead of menus, new file format, support for 1,048,576 lines and 16,384 columns
May 15, 2010 Excel 2010 14.0 Windows Calculation on multiple CPU cores, improved conditional formatting
January 29, 2013 Excel 2013 15.0 Windows Design adapted to Windows 8 , Power Pivot , Pover View, 50 new calculation functions
22nd September 2015 Excel 2016 16.0 Windows Design adapted to Windows 10 , Power Query, improved diagrams, forecast functions, time grouping in pivot diagrams
September 24, 2018 Excel 2019 16.0 Windows New functions, map diagram, improved pivot tables, better connection to Power Pivot, Power Query with transformation options
OS / 2
Release date designation version operating system Comments
1989 Excel 2.2 2.2 OS / 2 1.1 (There was no version 2.2 for Windows )
September 12, 1990 Excel 3.0 3.0 OS / 2 1.2 Last version for OS / 2

Applications and components

Like most spreadsheets, Excel enables extensive calculations using formulas and functions, including business, statistical, and date functions. Excel also has many math functions so that many business math problems can be calculated. Texts can be linked or logical calculations (if ... then) can be carried out. Depending on the content and values ​​in the table, content can be accessed elsewhere in the table. The results can be evaluated with the help of sorting, grouping and filtering functions as well as pivot tables and displayed graphically in diagrams . Tables or parts of them can be protected against changes in layout or content. The minimum requirements for working in a team on tables are met.

The functionality of Excel can be expanded by programming in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). VBA was introduced with Microsoft Excel 5.0 and was later integrated into Word , Access and other Office programs. On Macintosh, Excel 2008 did not include VBA support, while the previous and subsequent versions offered it. Excel can also be expanded with Visual Studio Tools for Office System ( Windows ) or AppleScript ( Mac ). Excel 4.0 introduced its own macro language.

user interface

Excel's workspace consists of workbooks that correspond to files, sheets that are displayed in tabs, and cells that contain the data. Up to 65,536 worksheets are possible per workbook. The cells of a worksheet are divided into rows and columns and can be addressed via a cell reference system.

As of Excel 2007, a worksheet can contain 1,048,576 rows and 16,384 columns (A to XFD), that is 17,179,869,184 cells. Before that, the size was limited to 65,536 rows and 256 columns (A to IV), i.e. 16,777,216 cells. If a number is entered in each of these fields, a file in Office 2003 has a size of 227 MB, in Office 2013 a size of 1382.4 MB, i.e. 1.35 GB.

Each cell can be clearly identified by a combination of letter and number, the so-called cell reference, which consists of rows and columns. The first cell in the upper left corner is called A1 , where A is the first column and 1 is the first row and, strictly speaking, the reference also includes the sheet name , since formulas in different sheets and folders can have the same reference, e.g. Sheet1! C4 + Table3! C4 .

Alternatively, the Z1S1 reference type used by Microsoft Multiplan or Microsoft Works can be set in the program options . A reference like "B3" (which is relative) is in the Z1S1 notation as an absolute reference "Z3S2". A reference based on “A1” to “B3” would be “Z (2) S (1)” in Z1S1 notation - in words “go from the current cell - here in the example Z1S1 - two rows down and one column to the right". As in the A1 notation, relative and absolute references can be mixed, for example "Z (2) S3" or "Z3S (-2)". The Z1S1 notation is a good way to get started, as the difference between absolute and relative reference is easier and quicker to explain.

The Z1S1 notation is required in VBA / VBS / COM programming. In order to achieve language independence, the English terms "R" for Row and "C" for Column are used here. In addition, relative references (see next paragraph) can be assigned to the entire affected area instead of just one output cell, which shortens the program code.

Cell references

Both relative and absolute cell references can be used as coordinates in tables. Like values, formulas can be copied in rows or columns. This approach was adopted from its predecessor, Multiplan. To ensure that formulas and their references can be copied, there are relative cell references such as A22 , absolute cell references such as $ A $ 22 , and mixed cell references such as $ A22 or A $ 22 .


In addition to pasting the entire content of one or more cells copied to the clipboard , there is the option of pasting certain content, for example only the values, instead of the formula that generated these values. It is also possible to add the copied value to the content of the marked cells or to perform other calculations.

Number formats

A number of formats are available for displaying values. In addition to ready-made formats such as date and time and special formats for postcodes, user-defined formats can be specified. Cells can also contain text in Excel.

Table formatting

Starting with the Excel 2007 version, tables can be formatted with predefined or individually definable table formats. As of this version, any number of conditional formats, instead of the previous three, are available for highlighting dependent on the cell content. Coloring and font formatting have been brought closer to Word and PowerPoint and include the same color spectrum, from which 12 preferred colors and other formatting can be determined as an Office design.


Excel has simple database functions. From the 2013 version it has limited functionality of the widespread concept of the relational database . It is thus possible to link tables using IDs. Data from databases can also be accessed via interfaces . Excel made this functionality available up to version 4 with the program of the manufacturer of the same name, Q + A , from version 5 with Microsoft Query , a query program for SQL- based databases via ODBC .

There are also database drivers from Microsoft for Excel workbooks. This allows the data in the cells of the worksheets to be used as tables. However, often not all SQL commands for these database drivers are available in Excel.


Excel can be programmed from version 4.0 with Excel's own XLM language (today hidden and forgotten, but is still supported for existing applications) and since Excel 5.0 with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), or under macOS with AppleScript , programmed. Under Windows there is the possibility to program in Visual Studio.NET with the Visual Studio Tools for Office System (VSTO) add-ins to expand the functionality, as well as with Visual Basic Script (VBS) under Windows ScriptHost or Classic ASP. With VBA and the XLM language it is possible to program your own functions in order to carry out calculations analogously to the built-in functions and to output the result.

The Macintosh variant Excel 2008 did not support VBA. Under Windows , other programs such as Word , Access , Visual Basic applications or Visual Basic Scripts can use Excel functions via the COM or ActiveX interface or work directly with Excel.


An add-on is an additional program that is loaded with Excel and is then ready to be executed. Some add-ons, such as the solver , are already included in Excel. Users can create and integrate their own add-ons. Work with Excel can be automated with add-ons. There are many add-ons available on the Internet , often free of charge.


On November 6, 2014, a version of Microsoft Excel was introduced as a mobile app with version number 1.2. It has been given an adapted layout and its operation corresponds to that of the other Word and PowerPoint apps . Many functions were not included when it was first released, but will be gradually upgraded as part of updates. The data can be edited via OneDrive or Dropbox from a PC, tablet or smartphone. Local storage or offline processing are also possible. The size of the program package is 490 MB.

File formats

Microsoft Excel 2007 and 2008 or later create files with the file extensions .xlsx (Excel Spreadsheet) or .xlsm (Excel Spreadsheet with macros) as standard . In addition, a number of file extensions such as .xlsb (space-saving binary format), .xlam (Excel add-ins), .xltx (Excel templates), .xlk (Excel backup copies) and .xll (Excel macro library) are used.

Some of the new file formats are based on the open OpenXML , which is based on XML and uses ZIP compression. Excel can open, import, save, or export various file formats , including various text formats and those from other spreadsheet and database programs.

The files created by older versions have the file extension .xls (Excel Spreadsheet), .xla (Excel Add-ins) and .xlt (Excel templates). These file formats are based on Microsoft's open binary format, the Binary Interchange File Format (BIFF). However, they are to a large extent proprietary as Microsoft did not publish the documentation in full detail. Documentation of the file structure from Excel 97 onwards was published by Microsoft in February 2008; earlier detailed analyzes come from the open source community.

similar products

See also


Web links

Wikibooks: VBA in Excel  - learning and teaching materials

Individual evidence

  1. Office 2019 is now available for Windows and Mac
  2. Compare Microsoft Office Products | Microsoft Office. Retrieved October 11, 2017 (Swiss Standard German).
  3. What's new in Excel 2019 for Windows. Retrieved July 19, 2019 (American English).