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David Ringstrom
David Ringstrom interviewed at Solutions 14

Ringstrom: Microsoft gets its act together on Excel

Nov 12th 2014
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New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is having a noticeable impact on Excel, according to spreadsheet tutor and AccountingWEB technology editor-at-large David H. Ringstrom.

Excel may be the workhorse of the accounting profession, but despite its age, Ringstrom says it's going to be around into the future. Indeed, it may expand its role within accountancy as it becomes more integrated with other programs, he said. And there have been other changes as well.

"It's a whole new Microsoft now. Under Steve Ballmer, Microsoft was stuck in the mud. The new guy is making snap decisions. They've launched a whole new Office Mobile for iPhone, there's Office for Android. He is just out of the bloxk. I think we're going to see more and more innovation because they realised it's their game to lose. They're a whole new Microsoft."

As an example, in his original review of Excel on the iPad, Ringstrom was disappointed that Pivot Tables were view only on Apple's tablet.

"It's not like you're entering formulas - you're dragging and dropping labels to fields. It should be ideal for the iPad," Ringstrom said at Solutions 14 on Monday. The Microsoft Office development team appeared to be listening to his complaints, because when he took the new Office Mobile version of Excel for a test drive last week, he could drag and drop his Pivot Table layouts.

"They're beginning to respond more quickly," he said.

For more insights from David on Excel's role in the evolving cloud environment, see this video interview from Solutions 14.

SaaSOptics co-founder Clayton Whitfield wasn't buying Ringstrom's argument. He would like to displace spreadsheets for a things like financial reconciliations for subscription-based businesses and wants accountants to stop fiddling with data so much. SaaSOptics was designed to eliminate the manual labour of Excel, he said at Solutions 14.

"If you are doing these things with a spreadsheet, you're doing the wrong thing because you're spending all of this time fighting with a spreasheet rather than running your business. Stop touching the data so much. Stop double and triple-touching your data. Get things integrated and moving back and forth." Watch his video interview below for more on this theme: