Microsoft Excel Turns 25 Amid Data’s Shift to the Cloud
Love it, hate it, or tolerate it, Microsoft Excel is the standard way to crunch numbers at home, at school, and in the enterprise. But it wasn’t always that way: many readers no doubt remember that Excel itself displaced Lotus 1-2-3 back in the late 1980’s. And now, in 2011, Microsoft has kicked off a celebration of Excel’s 25th’s anniversary. But TalkinCloud wonders: Maybe — just maybe — the cloud is the next major frontier for spreadsheets.
So the very first thing to address is whether or not Microsoft used Excel to calculate the 25th anniversary date — Excel 2.0, the first version and so numbered to match the Mac OS release it was designed to run on, was released in September 1985. That would put Excel’s Silver anniversary in late 2010, not early 2011. But let’s put that aside.
Microsoft Excel really emerged into its own with the August 1995 launch of Office 95, which itself was a concurrent release with IT game-changer Windows 95. The Windows 95-Office 95 combination proved unstoppable as businesses shifted to 32-bit desktops.
Now, we’re all witnessing another computing shift — “To the Cloud,” as Microsoft would put it. Lots of folks are buzzing about the forthcoming Microsoft Office 365, which will include cloud-delivered versions of the Office suite – including Excel. And Microsoft’s biggest and most public rival isn’t Lotus or even Apple anymore: it’s Google, with their Google Apps cloud productivity suite.
Microsoft Office continues to sell really well, helping the company to produce record financial results in its first quarter of 2011. But we’ll be watching to see how Excel and the rest of the Office suite perform in the age of the cloud.