Microsoft Excel users have a reason to rejoice as your favorite Spreadsheet is about to get smarter with a little help from machine learning and a better connection to the outside world.
Techcrunch reported Microsoft Excel will soon be able to understand more about your inputs and then pull additional information from the internet as required. This information was shared by Microsoft’s Jared Spataro, general manager for Office, and Rob Howard, the company’s director of Office 365 ecosystem marketing, during a briefing at the company’s Ignite conference today
Jared Spataro explained saying “We’re pleased to introduce new data types, that doesn’t sound all that interesting and we had this interesting discussion about what we’d name these things, but at the end of the day we realized that if you’re really an Excel wonk, the thing that you’re going to get is that there’s new data types.”
Techcrunch reports from the conversation with Sparto suggest the new feature will be launched in early 2018 and will not be just for Excel Geniuses, but you will soon be able to tag a list of company names as —well— company names, for example. Once you do that Microsoft Excel can pull in more information about the company from Microsoft’s Bing API. The information can be stock data and market cap for example Excel can even automatically detect that a list of names is indeed a list of company names or a list of cities, for example, which then allows you to pull in population data, among other things.
Jared Spataro explained further “Historically, Excel has always been good at numbers and you can enter in text and use conditional formatting and things like that. We are adding the idea that Excel can now recognize data types that are richer than those two.”
Apart from this, the Office team will be launching a new built-in tool for Microsoft Excel that will automatically try to pull the most interesting data from a spreadsheet and visualize it. The Insight Service feature currently offered in the Power BI data visualisation and analysis tool is worth noting that Google Sheets also offers a comparable tool.
Spataro said “It is meant to take any list of data and then start to generate insights. 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.If you like one of the graphs the service generates, you can easily import those into your Excel sheets and manipulate them to your heart’s content.
It is an effort to breathe new life into these applications, he said we think these apps still have a lot of life in them for just working on your content, but we do believe that these connections just makes it magical.”
With all this happening around Microsoft also announced the next perpetual version of Office will launch in the second half of 2018, and, because that’s almost 2019, it will be called Office 2019.
On a concluding note Spataro wrote in an announcement – “Cloud-powered innovation is a major theme at Ignite this week. But we recognize that moving to the cloud is a journey with many considerations along the way. Office 2019 will be a valuable upgrade for customers who feel that they need to keep some or all of their apps and servers on-premises, and we look forward to sharing more details about the release in the coming months.”