48 thoughts on “Excel 2007 Upgrade Poll

  1. The only issue that’s blocking me outright is that SAP has troubles interfacing properly with it.

  2. John

    I can’t see any poll (this may be my browser settings as I’ve noticed whilst I’m at work the display doesn’t always seem to work) – should I be seeing some poll buttons or some such?

  3. works just fine here @ work (IE6, SP2).

    Note that I say “at work” in the loosest possible sense… here, but not necessarily doing what they pay me to do!

  4. Poll looks fine here as well (IE7.0.5700.6)

    As far as the poll is concerned I will probably never go the upgrade route again. Too much of a pain in the butt if I have to reinstall Office for any reason. So, probably purchase install package instead of ‘upgrade’…

  5. What time frame did you have in mind? My thought is that people will tend to upgrade faster because of the change in file format. But if they retro-fit 2000 and up with a converter, maybe that won’t be the case. Some people will take a while to upgrade because of specific issues that are important to them (chart-o-philes, for instance).

    Personally, there are so many small things that I like about this version, that I’ll be upgrading sooner than I ever have in history. And that will be right after SP1 is released.

  6. Definitely won’t!

    Still using Excel 2000. No compelling features in 2002 or 2003. Ditto 2007. Maybe if the next version (2010?) corrects some of the high-handness of 2007 either by providing an interactive means of changing the ribbon or by making the ribbon part of the object model so that it could be changed using VBA or other scripting languages while Excel was still running, then maybe there’d be a reason to upgrade to that version.

    So the ‘Definitely not?’ question needs to be refined to ‘Definitely not 2007, but ever?’

  7. Ah, at home and the poll feature is here (and has been answered!) – damn work! I am currently undecided as to upgrading – I feel I will eventually, but straight away? Probably not. I still have so much to learn about 2003 to be honest…

  8. well as I use it in a company that right now has 2002 and 2003 and even some 2000 on some desks I would say never.

    by that I mean, at some point yes, but always using retro comp format so missing a lot of the new improvements.

    So well maybe in 4 or 5 years at best (which looks like a never IMO)

  9. John,

    You missed an option: Want to upgrade, but dependent on my employer to make that decision first because I have to have compatability between work and home (aka where the rest of the work gets done).

  10. I will upgrade on a spare computer (a) to run trials to advise clients whether it’s safe for them to upgrade, and (b) to develop for clients who have upgraded.

    I will not switch to 2007 for regular use until critical things are fixed. There are a lot of nice things in this release, but a lot of things I don’t like. The ribbon is (so far) not easy to customize, though Patrick Schmid’s add-in is looking promising. The charting part of 2007 actually breaks a good many existing charts that have worked fine in 97 through 2003.

  11. I’m sick of dynamic ranges for tables =OFFSET($A$1, 1, 0, COUNTA($A:$A) – 1, 10)
    When I make heavy use of dynamic ranges, things tend to slow down.
    So, the new Tables feature in 2007 is reason enough for me to upgrade.


  12. I put never.
    If they fix the UI in SP1 then it would be more likely. If not then I’ll probably skip this version.

    As it stands I can’t see any of my clients moving to this version anytime soon.
    When MS tried to move people off the market leading spreadsheet some time ago (Lotus) they added a compatibility mode, that seemed to work. I’m not clear how come they don’t think they need that now to move people from the current market leader (Excel 2000/2/3). The new lack of concern about backwards compatibility worries me.

    If the feedback from the release proves the ribbon is the future and I am wrong to think its ridiculous then I’ll have to back down or move out of MS Office development. But we wont know for sure till 2008 or later.

    Of course if I get a large piece of work using 2007 I’ll upgrade like a shot! There are lots of great features, but the ribbon ruins it for me.


  13. My company will only upgrade when Microsoft quits supporting exel 2003 and we just changed this year from office 98 because we where having problems with newer main sofware requiring xp or 2000

  14. “Definitely won’t? Everyone will upgrade eventually.”
    Yes, but not upgrade to Excel 2007, which is your question.

  15. For Rob van Gelder,

    The problem with dynamic ranges derived with OFFSET is that they make formulas volatile. Have you tried the =$A$1:INDEX($J:$J,COUNTA($A:$A)) alternative, which isn’t (well, shouldn’t be) volatile.

    Perhaps it’s safe to generalize that those who can stand the ribbon are likely to upgrade sooner than those who can’t.

  16. Put it this way: my sense is that the advances that most authors recieved for Excel 2007, Access 2007, etc books will not get paid off for a long time.

    Here are a few questions:
    How many of you that run websites will spend time developing new content for for Excel 2007?
    When do you plan on starting?
    How much time will you spend on new content?

  17. Rob –

    The behavior of Lists in 2003 was sufficient to do away with many OFFSET-based dynamic range formulas. Excel noticed which formulas referenced a full column of a list, and extended the references when the list was extended. For example, pivot tables and charts which get their source data from a list know about new data added to the list. The Tables in 2007 are nice, but I don’t need the higher octane just yet.

    Mike –

    My web site leans heavily on the core Excel versions 97-2003. I know I’ll have to start putting in some 2007 content. At first, it will read like J-Walk’s 2007 FAQ: a list of How-Do-I-Do-It/Where-Do-I-Find-It-In-2007’s interspersed with a list of workarounds for things that work differently or not at all in 2007.

  18. Certainly wont upgrade to 2007 in its persent form….of course if 2007 SP5 removes its present UI limitations and includes a host of things on Davids “will look at in the next version” list then there is a possibility….if not I am fine with 2003 till 2010….

  19. my sense is that the advances that most authors received for Excel 2007, Access 2007, etc books will not get paid off for a long time

    That’s what I thought about Excel 2002. And Excel 2003. But it didn’t happen. Those versions had minimal changes, yet the minimally-changed books sold very well. This time around, the books have lots of changes. Time will tell if anyone actually buys them.

    I’ll go out on a limb and claim that I’ve probably used Excel 2007 more than anyone else who reads this blog. I’ve explored every nook and cranny. As with anything new, some things are good, and some things are bad. With Excel 2007, I’d say that the new features FAR outweigh the problems.

    But then again, I’m not at all typical. For me, Excel is a toy rather than a tool. I have several personal Excel apps that I use, and I enjoyed updating them to take advantage of the new features. But I certainly can’t speak for corporations that have thousands of minimally-trained users and legacy apps that have been used for years. For them, it would probably be wise to hold off and see what Office 14 brings to the table. There’s no doubt in my mind that upgrading will require some significant training for average users. But one thing’s for sure: Once you’ve acclimated yourself to ’07, it’s REALLY hard to go back to Excel 2003. Impossible, in my case. I’m hooked.

    To answer Mike’s question. My plan is to completely revamp my “Spreadsheet Page” site next year (after the books, and after PUP v7). I’ll probably keep most of the old content, but the focus for new content will be on Excel 2007 exclusively. But, a great deal of that will also apply to older versions, so it’s not like I’m abandoning all of the pre-07 users.

    But who knows? Office 2007 could be a total flop. But I doubt it. I think Microsoft has done a good enough job with compatibility. Not perfect, but good enough. Some of the new features are compelling enough to make many buyers go out on a limb and just go for it. Sure, it has lots of rough edges, but I think Office 2007 is the foundation of future standards.

    My advice? There’s no better time than now to “master the ribbon.”

    Disclaimer: The preceding was written by an Excel junkie who has been bored for far too long, and really likes new toys.

  20. John –

    “I’ve probably used Excel 2007 more than anyone else who reads this blog.”

    My impression is that it takes me at least twice as many mouse clicks and significantly more mouse travel to get things done in Excel 2007 as in Excel 2003. Have you seen a similar productivity burden in your “hobbyist” use of 2007? Or have you evolved different habits that are more efficient?

    “With Excel 2007, I’d say that the new features FAR outweigh the problems.”

    Maybe so, but most of the problems seem to occur in charting, which was about the last part of Excel to be polished, and in B2TR was still rather incomplete. And charting is my bread-and-butter. I have to hope that (a) the RTM has fixed most issues, and (b) SP1 comes out soon and addresses the majority of issues that remain.

  21. Jon, my general impression is that Excel 2007 may take a few mouse mouse clicks, but not significantly more. I still use a lot of the old menu keystrokes, though. It took me a while to get used to the Mini toolbar, which is actually a very useful concept. It would be nice to be able to customize it, though.

  22. What are the problems that people have with the ribbon? Is it that you can’t customize it from within the UI? That won’t be an issue for me because I’ll just make an add-in that changes the xml and makes the ribbon whatever I want. For those that aren’t comfortable with VBA, I’m pretty darn certain someone will create a utility that allows you to do the same. I will miss floating toolbars, but not that much.

    Is it that there’s not an object model through which you can access the ribbon? I’m pretty darn certain that someone will write some class modules that simulate that.

    Is it that you can’t change the ribbon dynamically in code? This has merit, but it’s a relatively small portion of the Excel apps out there. Many of the ribbon’s components have callbacks that give some flexibility. But I’m not an expert on it, so if someone tells me it’s not enough, I will believe him.

    I just wonder what specific headaches people are having/anticipating.

  23. Is it that there’s not an object model through which you can access the ribbon?

    Not an object model, but VBA can execute any command on the ribbon — plus the commands that aren’t on the ribbon. Ironically, this is done via the CommandBars object. For example, this toggles the new selection pane:


    VBA can also determine if a Ribbon command is enable or “pressed.” But it can’t make any changes unless you’ve inserted RibbonX code with callbacks.

    Here’s a little demo that I put together that shows how to create a dynamic menu. The menu items in a ribbon control are different for each sheet:


  24. John –

    “my general impression is that Excel 2007 may take a few mouse mouse clicks, but not significantly more”

    I guess you’ve learned where stuff is. I seemed to spend time just searching for where I needed to click.

  25. Dick –

    The customizability and programmability of the Ribbon has been a mental barrier to my considerations about upgrading. But I’ve been watching while people have tried to customize and program the ribbon, and it actually seems like it’s more flexible than first impressions led me to believe. I still think eventually I’ll have to wipe out half the ribbon and replace it with other controls, but it appears that there will be adequate tools to use for this purpose.

    Another issue is getting the ribbon that I need right now to appear. On my old commandbars, the button I needed was always available, so I didn’t have to go looking for the commandbar to find the button. The ribbon doesn’t work the same way, since it only shows you a fraction of the interface at one time (we’ve traded in those trusty 16×16 icons for these ginormous ribbon buttons). Selecting a chart, for example, does usually activate the Chart Design tab, but then selecting a specific chart element does not activate the Chart Format tab, which is what I usually want when I select a chart element (which leads to excessive mouse clicks).

    Double clicking a chart element also brings up the Chart Design tab, not the Format dialog, which is what double clicking has done for as many versions of Excel as I can remember. But now the double click only does the same thing as the single click, so we’ve lost mouse functionality.

    This whole ribbon behavior is part of the look and feel of the new interface, which seems sometimes to be driven by “You’re gonna use it and you’re gonna LIKE it!”

  26. I use Excel 2000 at home and had 2003 forced on me at work. The only issue so far is learning how to switch off some of the new features to make it behave like 2000.

    From what I’ve read here, and I haven’t used 2007, it sounds like a repositioning of Excel that will benefit Microsoft in the future more than users. Feels like the next step in the XML-izing of their entire product range allowing for install-on-demand from central web servers. Definately not a no-brainer upgrade, something new and different that, by the way, can be used for spreadsheets.

  27. Where I work most people use existing spreadsheet models/applications, few make new ones other than once-offs. There are a dozen fairly large models ALL of which have nonstandard menus, as in, they hide Excel’s standard menu and provide alternative ones. A few have dynamic menus, meaning the contents of menus change depending on context determined by previous menu commands. Will that be as easy to implement with the ribbon?

    Then there’s placement. Sometimes it’s useful to see as many ROWS as possible and OK to show fewer columns. Command bars could be docked on the left or right side of Excel’s application window. Granted task panes could be displayed on the right, but they’re at least 4 times wider than command bars. And are task panes as easy to create through code as command bars?

    Then there’s Excel-Access interoperability. Anyone else notice that Access 2007 is STILL limited to 255 fields per table. Anyone guessing about the headaches to be had trying to access Excel tables that span more than 255 columns from Access?

    I’ll believe Microsoft is serious about supporting sophisticated spreadsheet modeling when they make SQL.REQUEST a built-in function and add some mechanism for 3D referencing other than calling INDIRECT with array arguments. But I’d bet they implement flashing, dancing text effects before that.

    Where I work we won’t be upgrading to Excel 2007 unless nearly all our customers and vendors do and the ability to work with the new file formats becomes a major concern. That means it’s probable we’ll give Excel 2007 a pass unless it takes Microsoft the better part of another decade to bring out the next version. If I don’t have to use Excel 2007 at work, I can’t see any pressing need to use it at home (my own spreadsheets, mostly tax matters, would run easily under Works).

  28. I will install 2007 alongside all the other versions (Excel97 and up: finally retired Excel 5 and 95 this year) and use it for testing and research on Excel 2007 calculation methods etc for my website.
    I dont anticipate using it for real apart from compatibility testing until one of my customers upgrades, which I dont expect to be for a while.
    My guess is that the one to upgrade to will be the following version (XL14) when I hope MSoft will finish the good work they have started with XL12.

  29. Not every Excel user sits in front of the product for 12 hours a day. But those who do get to the point where the limitation in terms of productivity is how quickly they can type the commands. Excel 2007 actions need about a third more keystrokes. For example, Alt-W,2 (switch to the second window) becomes Alt-W, W, 2.

    As others have noted, the removal of the charting features to what in effect is a separate program breaks a lot of what went before.

    However, breaking the 255 column limit if a powerful change. Previously, if you wanted to make a monthly forecast over more than 20 years, you had to indulge in various contortions. Now the world is contortion-free. This is so valuable that investment banks are already pricing deals and swapping information with each other using the beta builds, in spite of the health warnings that it must not be treated as production-ready. In this sense, the delay between the release of the software and the migration is actually negative.

  30. My first impressions of Excel 2007 RTM are:

    a. it’s pretty solid, much smoother than B2TR, almost comfortable.

    b. a bunch of things have gotten fixed, especially in charting.

    c. a bunch of things haven’t been fixed, especially in charting.

    d. I’m learning my way around, but it still takes too many clicks.

    e. at this rate, SP1 might just be the time to upgrade.

  31. How about a follow-up poll? People have been using the RTM for several months now.

    Of those who have upgraded to Office 2007:

    1. How happy are you with it?

    2. What’s the biggest improvement?

    3. What’s the biggest drawback?

    4. What do you like most about 2007? (not necessarily the same question as #2)

    5. What do you like least about 2007?

    6. What did you like most about 2003 that isn’t there any longer?

    7. What did you dislike most about 2003 that has been fixed?

    8. What new feature is the most unexpected pleasure?

    9. What new feature is the biggest unexpected disappointment?

  32. And here are my answers:

    1. I’m mostly neutral. Some things are cool, some things are not. I haven’t really upgraded, I just use 2007 to answer questions. If I’d been forced to upgrade, I think I’d be somewhat less enthused than merely “neutral”.

    2. There are a lot of nice-to-have features, but nothing that’s a got-to-have feature. Rows and Columns? No. New shapes and charts? No. Conditional Formatting? Maybe. Overall formatting? Maybe, probably not. New file structure? Might be, once I become more familiar. Pivot Tables? Maybe, when I learn more about them. Pivot Charts? Advanced Tables?

    The new tables in Excel 2007 are nice, but less of an improvement over Excel 2003’s lists than the Excel 2003 lists were over the nothing in Excel 2002. Excel 2003’s lists in fact were the killer feature that convinced me to upgrade to 2003.

    3. Performance, both in terms of my own efficiency with the new UI and dialogs (which cannot be attributed to unfamiliarity any longer, but to increased mouse movement and clicks) and the reported problems with large files and with charts containing a lot of data.

    4. There’s nothing yet that rises above the background for me.

    5. I don’t like the feel of charting in 2007. It feels thrown together and shaky, rather than complete or sturdy. The redesigned dialogs are less user-friendly and less information dense than the old ones, and double clicking no longer brings them up. It’s harder to do (and undo!) what I want quickly, and some things just do not work.

    6. A lot of people miss FileSearch, but I’m not too disappointed by losing that. I am most disappointed that the ability to size a chart sheet to the workbook window has been removed.

    7. I’m drawing a blank; I can’t think of anything.

    8. I haven’t had any real “Wow!” moments.

    9. The interface. It slows me down, because many fewer controls are visible at a given time, the wrong tab is the one that’s visible at any given time, many of the new dialogs are inefficient, and it’s such a pain to customize (and don’t tell me the QAT is a viable replacement for any of my custom toolbars in 2003). There are some third party customization utilities appearing (Patrick Schmid and Ron de Bruin, to name a couple that seem very useful).

    P.S. I left off one category: Killer Bugs.

    10. What can’t be done in 2007 that makes you (a) wish you hadn’t upgraded, or (b) ensures that you will not upgrade?

    Answer: For me, the inability to plot an XY series on an existing Line Chart’s time scale axis is the killer. You can workaround this by using the secondary axis, but this will not synchronize with the primary time scale, and it prevents me from using the secondary axis for something different.

    P.P.S. I think I need to get my own blog, before Dick starts charging me for the bandwidth.

  33. Keep ’em coming, Jon. I used TR2 while I was doing some book work, but haven’t really touched 2007 since. I’m busy enough with 2003 work, but I hope to find time to get back into this summer. Yeah, like I spend a lot of time in front of my computer in the summer. With that in mind:

    1. I’m very happy with 2007, but I haven’t really pushed it to the limits. I don’t create charts very often, so the problems with that area haven’t affected me.

    2. Full keyboard access to all the command via the ribbon. Big surprise, huh?

    3. Finding commands on the ribbon. That will correct itself with time, but at first it’s really frustrating. They have a 2003 compatibility thing for keystrokes, but it should also tell you where the new command is and not just do the command for you.

    4. Automatic named ranges with Tables. What a huge time saver.

  34. I’ve upgraded to excel 2007 at home – had to, as I had to re-install windows XP and my old version of excel 2003 went west – the way that microsoft’s products sometimes do – after having paid 150 or so $ for excel 2007 I am now trying desperately to get 2003 back – I may have to pay but I sure don’t like the new excel 2007 setup and there seems to be no way to set 2007 back to the “classic” look that we all know and love. The new menus at the top in 2007 are “over developed” and are obscure and busy – makes it much harder I find to find the commands I want – 2003 worked so well and intuitively ands you could modify the menus’ look and feel much more so than on 2007. Luckily I still have 2003 at work. Some folks say the best way to run excel is under windows on a Mac – I’m starting to believe, as that way you can keep a good working environment without arbitrary steps backward.

  35. ok, just bought a new laptop, and was expecting to port data over and edit it quicker on my 10 times faster laptop than the ancient thing my data is acquired on.
    But guess what, it is actually faster to edit on a 500mhz desktop with a few hundred megs of RAM than to edit on my 2gb 2ghz duo laptop??
    There may be a SLIGHT advantage in speed if I stay out of “compatibility mode”, but that doesn’t help when significant amounts of data have already been processed in ’03 excel.
    I’m about to pitch this laptop out the window. (or at least reformat and hunt for a copy of old excel, perhaps old windows while I’m at it.)
    grumble grumble

  36. I’m dreading my next computer purchase. The last few have been easy, preloaded with Windows XP, but I think the stores got rid of the last XP machines in their holiday sales. It’s one thing to sign up for a beta program, but with what I’ve been reading, Vista (like Office 2007) sounds like an extended beta.

  37. My current employer has been trying to oust Office in favour of Star Office for over a year, and ironically happens to be the first place I ever used XL 2003 – required for accepting reports from the database I am working on. There are many installations of MS Office, though IT Help do not support it. I am sure there will be installations of Office 2007 within 3 months, and that they will be a tremendous headache because of file-format incompatibility. This large organisation could very much benefit from Sharepoint Server but are unlikely to go for that because of the very public commitment to Star.

    I bought Office 2007 so I can learn about the product and can quickly be productive. However, I will not commit to it at home until XL 2008 for the Mac comes out later this year. That won’t run VBA, which is a whole nother problem.

  38. I recently upgraded when I purchased a new laptop.

    If you are a power excel user with lots of dense files with macros that you frequently use I would highly suggest that you try them out on a friends computer before upgrading to understand what you’re in for. I am desperately trying to find an old version of excel 2003 to migrate back. What a mess.. The auto save hangs forever, the macros don’t work, it takes forever to find things, and the default files aren’t compatable with people who haven’t upgraded (unless you save an extra copy).

    Some stuff seems cool like the new conditional formats but the old stuff needs to work before I can enjoy new bells and whistles.

    Investment bankers must be going nuts (or not upgrading)

  39. Upgraders should certainly keep a copy of an earlier version on their machine, but I’m nowhere near as negative about 2007 as some.

    All my macros have worked without modification, other than one UDF which used to cause the occaisional crash in 2003, and caused instant crashes in 2007. The reason was an incorrectly dimensioned array, and having fixed it, it now works perfectly. Overall I have found 2007 more stable than 2000 or 2003.

    I don’t use auto-save, but I find that large files save much quicker in 2007 than 2003. Any files that will be shared I save in the old format; it doesn’t seem a big hassle. Files for my own use I save in binary format, and get the benefit of much smaller files, and even quicker saving.

    I still have some performance issues with 2007, especially with some macros, but although I still have 2000 installed, I rarely use it.

  40. “I think the stores got rid of the last XP machines in their holiday sales….”

    If you go on-line and pretend to be (or are) a business customer, you can still get XP, although I don’t know for how much longer.

    Looking at Jon’s poll / questionaire above – I have been using Office 2007 for about a month following a computer replacement, and I am familiar enough with it to comment…
    1. Very unhappy. The Ribbon is an abomination – it “fixes” something that wasn’t broken, and does a poor job of it.
    2. Autocomplete for named ranges is kind of nice, and prevents the occasional spelling error from screwing up a formula. The “Name Manager” is nice but not a knockout (and equivalent functionality was otherwise available), and the new headers & footers are also nice-but-no-biggie
    3. The Ribbon – it takes up too much space, it isn’t sufficiently customizable, and they have done away with floating toolbars. In a claimed attempt to make life easier for newbies who use 5% of the product’s functionality (and I am not convinced that it will do so) MS has degraded the user experience for people who really make use of it.
    4. Dual processor support
    5. The Ribbon, and the completely half-assed attempt to allow users to adapt the product to them, rather than the other way ’round, via the “customization” in the QAT.
    6. Customizable toolbars and floating toolbars. I frequently like having a toolbar a ‘cell-and-a-half’ away from where I am working to save on mouse travel – now, whether I like it or not (and I bloody don’t), the button I need is at the top of the screen, and typically on an inactive tab.
    7. There wasn’t much about 2003 that I thought needed to be fixed. I would have liked it if financial functions didn’t automatically reformat the cell they are in in an accounting format – most of my work is in thousands or millions of dollars – a comma format with no decimal place works just fine, thanks. Unfortunately, that “improvement” from 2K to 2003 has been retained.
    8. None
    9. Well, I knew going-in that the Ribbon would be a pain in the butt – I just didn’t realize how much, and there was really nothing that I looked at in XL07 and said “boy, I’ve just gotta have that.” I think the charting / formatting / billion-colour options are the biggest damp squib. For me, it is drastic overkill; to the extent it adds anything, it favours “pretty” over useful, to the extent of interfering with usefulness.

    Other than the dual-processor support, there is nothing I like about Office2007, and I have seriously contemplated reverting to Office 2K. I have played around with Open Office in the past, and not been overly impressed compared to O2K and O2003 – but it looks better than O2007. If a friend or colleague were to ask me, I would recommend sticking with Office 2003 or 2K as long as they can: it is a less attractive “upgrade” than Vista – and that’s saying something.

  41. I use Excel extensively, and we have “upgraded” to Excel 2007 here at work. I never needed the mouse, and now I spend more time trying to find commands in the new menus. Who thought this was a good idea? It is probably good for light users, but if you are a power user, you’ll HATE it. I cannot believe they switched the menus – what a huge blunder. I have heard they might switch back in the next version, or give the option to use the “classic look.” This was a mistake, but they can always fix it by allowing a patch to use the old interface.

  42. I wish I never “changed” from 2003 to 2007! I have only found one improvement with 2007 and MANY drawbacks. If you have a choice – do NOT do it! You can’t adjust colors on the things you want to, you MUST use the mouse more often now, there are several defaults that can’t be changed, 1/2 the common actions I take require an extra click now, ugh! If someone says you MUST change, ask them for a cost-benefit analysis and make them stake their job on it. Massive loss in productivity company-wide: take away everyone’s pencil and force them a felt-tip marker in a light-blue color.

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