Microsoft Office 2016: The Complete Guide (2015)

WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?

Microsoft is an entity that is linked to the development and manufacturing computer products and accessories.   Microsoft was originally founded by childhood friends, Paul Allen and Bill Gates, who at a time when computers were practically unknown were so engrossed in the technological world. It reached a point where the boys, would skip classes to go into the computer room at school. After eventually hacking the school’s computer, the duo was able to put their skills and talent to productive use by assisting with the improvement of the performance of the computer. In addition to that they were offered unlimited time in the computer room. From there on they were on a road of major success.

After spending some time at Harvard, studying pre-law, Bill Gates eventually succumbed to his intense passion for programming.  His partner Paul also supported his decision to leave Harvard so they could dedicate their time to developing and producing projects.  Microsoft was birthed, when Paul Allen discovered an article in an Electronics magazine, on a microcomputer, called Altair 8800. That led to the pair writing and developing a version of programming language for the computer. MITS, the developers of the computer agreed to the distribution and marketing of the new product, called Altair BASIC.  This experience, further inspired Bill and Paul which led to the formation of their Software Company and so Microsoft came into existence on April 4, 1975.

In 1976, the name Microsoft was registered in New Mexico and in 1976 the company officially opened internationally in Japan, under the name ASCII. The company was incorporated in Washington in 1981, as Microsoft Inc. Both men operated and managed as President and Executive Vice President.   In 1981, the company incorporated in the state of Washington and became Microsoft Inc. The company was managed by both men, with Bill Gates as the President and Chairman of the Board, and Paul Allen as the Executive VP.

Operating Systems are of vital importance as they are mandatory for a computer’s operation. In 1980 Microsoft released its first public operating system product, called Xenix, which was product of Unix. The predecessor to Microsoft Word, Multi-Tool Word originated from the Xenix and led to the revolution of Word processing. In 1981 Microsoft designed an operating system, called Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS-DOS) for IBM which proved to be quite successful. This led to Microsoft becoming a major vendor for software as Bill Gates reserved the rights to the software and only licensed it to IBM. In 1982 Microsoft released a mouse called “Microsoft Mouse.”

Windows

Microsoft’s true success was materialized in 1983, following the development and release of Microsoft Windows. Microsoft Windows was developed specifically for IBM computers. Bill Gates went on to become one of the youngest billionaire upon the company becoming public.

Microsoft Office came into being in 1989. As the name suggests Microsoft Office is a software package that has an assortment of programs that can be used for various tasks. These include a word processor, spreadsheet, a mail program, business presentation software, and more.

Windows 95 became available in 1995, and featured an avenue to connect to the Internet with the inclusion of Internet Explorer 1.0

The History of Excel

It is quite hard to imagine a period when spreadsheets were non-existent. However, long before spreadsheets were developed, people had to manually do all those tasks and would spend tedious hours trying to achieve them.


Who decided to change this?

In the late 70s, even before personal computers came about the very first electronic spreadsheet was invented by Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston. VisiCalc was originally written for the Apple II computer. It became a very popular program and that led to many developing companies purchasing the Apple II so they could use the program=am for budgeting purposes.

Following this, Lotus went on to steal the spreadsheet spotlight. In 1982, with the advent of IBM personal computers, VisiCorp sought to transfer VisiCalc to the new hardware environment. However, competition arose when a group of computer fanatics from Cambridge, Massachusetts found a way to redesign and improve on the spreadsheet notion. With heads Mitch Kapor and Jonathan Sachs, they were able to design a fresh product. This became known as Lotus Development Corporation’s 1-2-3 and after its release in 1983; it went on to be an extremely profitable invention.

So much so, that it took the reins from VisiCalc.  Afterwards Microsoft joined the spreadsheet family in 1982, and released its first spreadsheet called Multi-Plan. Microsoft designed the Multi-Plan to be used on computers operating the CP/M operating system but it eventually became operable on other devices such as Apple II, XENIX, and so forth. Due to its specifications and standard, Multi-Plan proved difficult to understand and execute and so was never popular in the US. Consequently, the Lotus 1-2-3 surged ahead.

Excel was somewhat a bi product of Multi-Plan and came about in 1985 for Macintosh computers. The first version of Excel was released on November 1987, labelled as Excel 2. Though it wasn’t an instant success, Excel became more popular as the demand for Windows grew. A Windows version of the lotus was also eventually released.


Versions of Excel


Excel 2


The very first version Excel for Windows originated in 1987 and was labelled as the Excel 2 to correspond with the original Excel. Due to the popularity of Windows during that period, this version of Excel only included a run time version that had just enough features to operate only Excel. 


Excel 3


Excel 3 for Windows was released during the latter part of 1990. This version presented major upgrades in both the appearance and features. Users had the options of toolbars, drawing capabilities, work- sheet outlining, add-in support, 3-D charts, workgroup editing, and many newer features.

Excel 4


Excel 4 came around in late 1992. During this time Windows had increased in popularity and so this version was somewhat of a milestone. It was more user-friendly and users were able to understand its usability much sooner. The added features were also another bonus.


Excel 5


The next version, Excel 5, was release in 1994 and boasted a number of improved and new features such a multi-sheet workbooks and a new macro language. Excel’s image was steadily rising and was one of the main programs in its field. In early 1994, Excel 5 appeared on the scene.


Excel 95
 

Excel 95 or Excel 7 hit the market in 1995. It bore similar resemblance to that of Excel 5 and only included a few improvements and features. However, Excel 95 demonstrated to be significant improvement as it was the very first version to use more advanced 32-bit code. The same file format was utilised for both Excel 95 and Excel 5.


Excel 97


Excel 97 or Excel 8 saw the most significant upgrade and improvement since its introduction. The appearance of the tool bars and menus received a facelift and the provision of online help became available. Excel also came with increased number of rows and programming environment (VBA) saw major upgrades as well. A new file format was also introduced with Excel 97.


Excel 2000

In 1999 Excel 2000 or Excel 9 was released. Though this version included only a few minor improvements, users now had the opportunity to save files in HTML format. Notwithstanding Excel 2000 still supported the standard binary file format, which is compatible with Excel 97.

Excel 2002
 

In June 2001 Microsoft released Excel 2002 or excel 10. It was released as apart of Microsoft Office XP and so was referred to as Excel XP as well. Excel 2002 (also known as Excel 10 or Excel XP) was released in June of 2001 and is part of Microsoft Office XP. Most of the new features that were introduced were not quite significant and generally catered to new users. One significant feature however was the ability to recover your work after Excel crashed or to fix corrupt files that had been created a while back. This version also added background formula error checking and a new formula-debugging tool.
 

Excel 2003
 

The eleventh version of Excel or Excel 2003 made its debut in the fall of 2003. This version did not receive much new features or upgrades. However, users now had the opportunity to import and export files in XML format and plot the data to particular cells in a worksheet. It also introduced the theory of the List, a specially selected range of cells. Both of these features would later prove to be significant to further enhancements.

Excel 2007

The most noteworthy change since that of Excel 97, came about in 2007 with Excel 2007 or Excel 12 or as it was officially called, Microsoft Office Excel 2007. It boasted changes in Excel’s default file format and the menu and tool bar system was interchanged with a new type of UI called the Ribbon (a very familiar feature today). Charts were given an upgrade to their appearance and the number of rows and columns were considerably increased. New worksheet functions were also included in this upgrade. In addition to these major changes, Microsoft improved the List concept that was introduced in Excel 2003. A list is now referred to as a Table.

Excel 2010


The most recent version of Excel, Excel 2010 was release in the early months of 2010. It is also known as Excel 2014, which is quite ironic given that the version before this was Excel 12. This version saw many improvements which were supported by Excel 2007.


What Excel does for users?

Excel is arguably one of the most important and powerful tool in the business arena. Whether you operate a large company or a small business Excel makes the most complex tasks seem effortless. Excel has revolutionized the corporate world and since its introduction in 1985, has proved to be a valuable asset. Here are some areas where Excel is of dire importance.

Finance and Accounting Sphere

The use of Excel is very important in the financial and accounting department of any successful corporate business. Upon entering these places, you are sure to be greeted by computer screens running spreadsheets for various reasons, ranging from budget preparation, financial planning and so forth. Most companies rely on Excel to perform complex financial tasks using formulas, to make important business decisions. Excel has seriously reduced the time spent labouring on complex calculations, reducing the manual processes.

Marketing and Product Management

Marketing companies also depend on Excel to manage their sales force and development marketing strategies based on results. Whereas they may leave the complex financial analysing to the financial departments, marketing professionals require Excel to organize and manage data, especially the use of Pivot Tables.

Human Resources Planning

Excel is also an excellent tool for the Human Resources Department. Most companies may use specially designed software such as Oracle or SAP and QuickBooks to manage payroll and employee data. However most of the data can be exported to Excel and be used for trend analysis, compiling company expenses and looking at the overall productivity of a company. This assists with helping companies to make decisions tailored specifically for its employees.

Organization of Data

Excel is the perfect tool for non-financial tasks. Users such as business administrators employ the use of tables to organize data and the various features to update, organize and show important data. Excel provides broad, detailed but easy to interpret results that can be used for cross referencing and the development of solutions to issues that may arise.

Presenting data in charts

Users who like their information displayed in chart and graphs can count on Excel to deliver. Excel is equipped with a number of charts and graphs to display statements and other numerical data visually. Wit excel the charts can be designed in the same spreadsheet where the data is located. So you need not invest in other graphing programs, saving you time and capital. Photographic representation of the information provides more effective understanding and keeps individuals more attuned than the use of columns of numbers.