A couple of weeks ago, we asked you what you wanted to know about Office 2011, the latest update to Microsoft’s venerable software suite. (It goes on sale this week.) Based on our own research and consultations with Microsoft, here are answers to your questions about Excel 2011 ( ); stay tuned for our answers about the suite’s other apps.
Can I set the menus and Ribbons in Excel 2011 so they’re the same as in Excel 2007 for Windows?
Although the user interface is similar on both platforms, they are a bit different, so you won’t be able to make Excel 2011 look and feel exactly the same as Excel 2007.
Does pressing the slash key (/) in Excel 2011 jump the focus up to the menu bar, as it does in the Windows version? The Mac version used to do this; it was nice to not have to reach for the mouse.
No, that is not supported in Excel 2011.
Did Microsoft bring back the ability to see (and manipulate) page breaks in a page-break view?
Yes, you can see and change page breaks in the Page Layout view.
There’s been an inconsistency between the ways the Mac and Windows versions of Excel have managed dates (the 1900 versus 1904 problem). Has that been solved?
New workbooks in Excel 2011 now automatically default to the 1900 date system, as they do in the Excel 2010 for Windows.
Does Excel 2011 for Mac support macros created with Excel 2007 for Windows?
VBA and AppleScript
Is the version of Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) in Excel 2011 different from the one that worked with Excel 2004?
There are two major differences between the two: First, Microsoft ported the Windows Office VBA environment to the Mac. The engine was upgraded from VBA 6 to VBA 6.5. The company also enabled some functions—such as FormatCurrency, FormatNumber, and Replace—that had been disabled in Office 2004. Second, whenever it was possible and made sense, Microsoft aligned the object models in Office 2011 with those used in Office 2010 for Windows. The company says that should result in much better compatibility across the two platforms.
Is the Solver integrated into Excel now that VBA is back? (In Excel 2008, it was a separate application and very slow.)
Yes. Solver is back in Excel 2011. It uses VBA for its user interface and Apple’s new Scripting Bridge technology to help with performance. Microsoft says its interface matches that of the new Solver in Excel 2010 for Windows. You should be able to move Excel workbooks containing Solver models (and VBA macros that control Solver) freely between Mac and Windows versions of Excel. All versions of Solver—from Excel 3.0 in 1990 to Excel 2010 and 2011—will be available as free downloads from Frontline Solvers.
File format: Is it xls or xlsx?
The default format is .xlsx.
Are there still problems with files that have long paths (opening, saving, inserting images from, and so on)?
Excel 2011 supports path names up to 255 characters long.
Can a cell in Excel reference data that’s available from a Website and then update at selected intervals of time?
Yes and no: You can update a cell in Excel reference data from a Website, but you cannot set the interval time.
Does Excel 2011 support Excel 2004’s tools for matrix manipulations (TRANSPOSE(array), MMULT(array1,array2), MINVERSE(squareArray))?
Can you access MS SQL OLAP cubes now?
Has Microsoft returned the Analysis Toolpak add-in that it removed from Excel 2008?
Microsoft says that the new version of Excel supports the add-in the same way Excel 2008 did, and that the add-in’s basic functions work in Excel 2011.