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Microsoft Excel 2007 versus 2010 versus 2013

There are far fewer differences between Excel 2007, Excel 2010 and Excel 2013.  Should you upgrade?  Very tough call.   We thought we would list the differences that we see that are important to most users:

  • If you are using two or more monitors, we highly recommend you switch to Excel 2013.  Each workbook is opened in its own Excel window.  With 2010 and earlier, you will see the different open workbooks on the task bar, but each is in a window that is in the Excel session. This means to view two workbooks at the same time, you have to arrange the windows in Excel. If you have two or more monitors, you can put one window on one monitor and one on another.  The opposite recommendation also applies:  If you have only one monitor, stay with Excel 2010! It is almost impossible to view two workbooks in Excel 2013 on one monitor.
  • Chart macro recording has been fixed in 2010.  Not something to be proud of since it should not have been broken when Excel 2007 was released, and should have been fixed in an SP release.  If you need to record chart macros, which is a need if writing such macros, then you need 2010.
  • The calculation speed is a little faster.  For 99% of users, no one will notice the difference.
  • Sparklines are nice.  Maybe worth the upgrade.  They are little mini-charts.
  • Excel 2010 can be run as a 64 bit application.  But one can not install it as part of the automatic install.  One has to dig on the disk to find it.  And you need to have at least 5-10 gig of memory on your PC to significantly benefit from it.  Most PCs have at most 3 gig, which is far to little.  And few users need 64 bit Excel.  But it does sound impressive to say you are using it!
  • Microsoft improved statistical, financial, and math functions and the wizard interface in 2010. We're glad the functions are better, but upgrade only if you are aware of a problem with functions in your older copy of Excel or if you need a function that is not in your copy of Excel.
  • Fill patterns which were removed in 2007 are back.  Howeve do not upgrade just to get fill patterns back.  A quick search on the internet will find several free fill pattern add-ins for Excel 2007.
  • If you are a heavy user of conditional formatting, then upgrading to 2010 should benefit you.  In 2007, a lot of conditional formatting would bring Excel to its knees. 

If you were pushing the envelope of what you needed Excel to do, then upgrading is probably a good idea, especially if you have Excel 2007.  If you are on 2003, upgrading to 2010 will most likely cut your productivity 20% at least.  See our page above on 2003 versus 2007.   If you are the average user, developing typical workbooks and your version of Excel is working fine, stay with it and don't upgrade.

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