Microsoft has finally done something right (Excel)

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Alan Kirk
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Microsoft has finally done something right (Excel)

Post by Alan Kirk » Thu May 16, 2019 1:15 am

Rather than peeing people off by doing things like:
  • Pulling the Recent Folders list in File Open (which admittedly they grudgingly restored after seemingly endless waves of customer protests);
  • Introducing the work-destroying and ineptly programmed abomination that is Autosave for OneDrive*;
  • The Ribbon and its maaaasive boost to discoverability via things like the little tiny expand box hidden down at the bottom right of some tab groups. That's so much more "discoverable" and screen real-estate efficient, which is why everybody - by which I mean "hardly anybody" - has adopted the ribbon over conventional menus in the 12 years since Excel 2007;
  • Removing off line help because there are no such things as data limits or dead zones, and everybody works at a desk in an office with high speed wi fi these days;
  • Killing off the multi-document interface because Single Document Interface makes it just sooooo much easier to have two files side by side with an entire frapping application interface surrounding each one, isn't it? Screen real estate? Pah, who cares about that? None of us use monitors any more, we just hook our computers up to portable Imax screens. (Ponders how episodes of Motorsport Manager would look on Imax screens... mmmm, sweeeet.) But back to reality, MS seem determined to stick with this notwithstanding that the number of votes to restore MDI is nudging up to 1000 on a page that the overwhelming majority of Excel users don't even know exists and therefore haven't voted on;
Microsoft has actually done something that is useful for Excel users.
Excel performance improvements now take seconds running Lookup-type functions

This is our second wave of Excel Office 365 performance improvements after our first Sept ’17 one, to reinforce our commitment to fixing top impacting freezing, slow and not responding performance issues derived from Excel user feedback and usage learnings. This time around we have even more improvements than before starting with...

Lookup functions VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, and MATCH are one of the most used functions in Excel. If you use them with exact match to find items in a table or range in Excel, and see it noticeably take time in seconds or minutes or more, chances are you'll now see very noticeable improvement in the speed at which you see results.
I can't attest that this is true yet because it has only just been updated on my machine but if it is, it's the first time in ages that MS has actually done something of value for Excel users.

(Edit: (and I could have sworn that I made this edit before), I should also mention the SumIfs / CountIfs etc family of functions which can be mightily useful. The analysis functionality on the Data tab is also a different subject for discussion.)

Mind you, the latest updates seem to have removed the idiot "Tell me what you want to do..." prompt in the Help menu and replaced it with a simple "Search". This is probably because their outstanding natural language processing not only comprehensively failed to understand what you actually wanted to do but would sometimes jump you straight into menus that would automatically do something that you emphatically did NOT WANT to do. So the death of that "feature" is a win for users as well, in my books.

Weeell, except for the fact that the amount of help that you get when you're off line is exactly the same (nil), anyway.
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* My favourite side effect of the idiot auto-save function? I generally have it turned off because I don't want the file auto-corrupting if I just open said file for reference, or to play around with the numbers.

When I go to close the file and have not saved it (on the occasions that I want to) I will get a prompt asking me whether I want to do so. If I say "Yes", it will prompt me with a Save As dialog with a blank name, because it is too stupid to realise that when the user says "save" they actually mean "with the same name, to the same place; you know, like 'save' has meant for the last 40 years or so". I therefore cancel the dialog and hit Ctrl+S first. Genius level programming there, Redmond.
"To them, equipment failure is terrifying. To me, it’s 'Tuesday.' "
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