Historically, major changes to Microsoft Excel would arrive every three years or so, but since then everyone using it would say Excel 2007, 2010, or 2013 has all had the same features and functionality across a given version year.
Improvements were sometimes added by way of infrequent service packs. For instance, Service Pack 1 for Office 2007 finally added the ability to save documents as PDF files. Most updates to Excel, especially those delivered in the form of service packs, applied behind-the-scenes tweaks or bug fixes. That is until Excel 2016 arrived.
With Excel 2016, Microsoft has carved Excel users into two separate classes: subscribers and perpetual license holders. If you’re a subscriber, then you’re paying some amount of money monthly or annually to license Microsoft’s products.
This also entitles you to frequent improvements in the software, such as the new persistent clipboard that no longer throws data you’ve copied away at the blink of an eye. Subscribers are also able to use a handful of new worksheet functions that perpetual license holders of Excel 2016 cannot. In short, Excel 2016, as well as the Microsoft Office applications, are evolving at a pace we haven’t previously seen.
Unless you state otherwise, these updates appear automatically and unannounced on your computer. You’ll periodically encounter a new prompt that brings the latest improvements to your attention; however, a recent build caused a menu in Excel to lose hundreds of commands, as shown in Figure 1.
I accessed this screen in Excel 2016 by first choosing File and then Options. From there:
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About David Ringstrom, CPA
David H. Ringstrom, CPA, is an author and nationally recognized instructor who teaches scores of webinars each year. His Excel courses are based on over 25 years of consulting and teaching experience. His mantra is “Either you work Excel, or it works you.” David offers spreadsheet and database consulting services nationwide.