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Harry's impression: Microsoft Excel gets smarter

October 2017

Microsoft will be launching new features for its popular spreadsheet software Excel next year, with new machine learning capabilities, reported Techcrunch last month. With its enhancements, Excel will be able to understand more about users’ inputs and provide additional information from the Internet, Jared Spataro, Microsoft’s General Manager for Office, and Rob Howard, the company’s Director of Office 365 Ecosystem Marketing, told the technology news website.

“We’re pleased to introduce new data types,” Spataro said. With these new data types, users will be able to tag a list of company names. Excel would then gather relevant information about the companies, such as stock data and market capitalization, from Microsoft’s Bing application programming interface, which enables developers to programmatically submit queries to and retrieve results from the Bing search engine.

Excel will also have a new built-in tool that will automatically try to visualize the most interesting data from a spreadsheet. “It is meant to take any list of data and then start to generate insights,” Spataro said. “It will look at combinations, charts, pivot tables and it will recognize those that are most interesting by looking at outliers, looking at trends in the data, looking at things that represent changes.”

Users should prepare for a more intelligent Excel experience, to be launched in early 2018. ◆