Excel – What is it, definition and concept | 2022

The Excel office program is a native tool of the Windows operating system to make spreadsheets. It is a software created by the Microsoft company and is considered one of the most powerful solutions in the workplace.

In other words, it is an application that is part of the Microsoft Office software package. This includes, in addition to Excel, mainly PowerPoint (presentations and slides) and Word (text tool).

We could say that Word, PowerPoint and Excel are roughly equivalent to having a notebook, a whiteboard and a calculator. However, distances must be bridged, since the versatility offered by these digital tools is much higher than that of the aforementioned traditional instruments.

There are also other software tools within the Microsoft ecosystem, such as Teams (team management and video calls), Outlook (e-mail), PowerBI (data administration and presentation) or Edge (web browser), among others.


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Thus, Excel is one of the key tools on which the Windows operating system relies in order to offer a complete user experience. In fact, it is one of the most demanded office tools at the workplace.


The Excel program was intended to facilitate long-range calculations, for which only the calculator and some earlier spreadsheet prototype existed, such as the ‘Multiplan 1982’ program. This program was the forerunner of Microsoft in the creation of Excel.

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However, the first version of Excel was made exclusively for Mac computers in 1985. At that time, Mac and Microsoft reached an agreement in which the current giant, Apple, was in a difficult economic situation. Hence, Microsoft managed to introduce its software on the Macs of the time.

Microsoft’s idea was to adapt a physical activity to the digital environment, that is, to abandon pencil and paper for a more digital calculation environment and, therefore, faster and more efficient.

Over time, Excel became the leader in its sector thanks to the management carried out by Microsoft with its Office package. One of the most notable milestones was the 2010 update, which integrated the pivot table function in the Excel tool. This function marked a before and after, since it meant a great leap in quality and functionalities for the program.

Later, with the rise of open source technologies, Microsoft has been adapting and improving the tool.

Without a doubt, Excel is one of the tools that, despite the years, continues to have great potential for development.

Excel Features

This computer program is characterized by being a leader in the office automation sector, since the operating system in which it lives, Windows, is the most widely used. This does not mean that it is also available for Apple devices, or for devices with the Android operating system.

The issue is that within the office automation tools market we can find all kinds of software. In this case, Excel is a paid application, which means that it needs an operating system to work, and that in order to use it, you must pay for it.

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In addition, Microsoft, having its own ecosystem, has been combining functions from other programs, in order to provide them with more features. The most common example is to adapt Excel functions to Word, in order to make it easier for the user to use both programs. The idea is that if you know how to use Excel, you will know, to a large extent, how to use Word, among other programs in the Microsoft ecosystem.

Excel versus other programs

Given the digital boom and the competition that occurs in the market, Excel is not the only alternative that the user has in order to have a quality spreadsheet program.

Some of the programs that we can choose are:

  • Google Sheets.
  • Numbers.
  • Apache OpenOffice.

On the one hand, Google Sheets is, as its name suggests, Google’s application for creating and editing spreadsheets. The only handicap of this exceptional tool is that it is only available online with all its features.

On the other hand, Numbers is Apple’s tool for its devices. This application is available offline, but it is not very popular despite its quality and ease of use.

Finally, we have Apache OpenOffice, which is the open source and free-to-use tool that best satisfies the needs that a user expects from Excel, or from the entire office package. This application is not paid, it is available offline, but it does not have some of the functions of Excel.

Without a doubt, it is an alternative to take into account if we do not have the Microsoft Office package available, since Apache also includes text and presentation tool applications in its office suite.

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Example of the Excel program

Excel is an application that can be used for almost any purpose in its field. In other words, in addition to performing simple calculations, it is possible to program and carry out complex projects, because its use and customization is very broad.

Next, it will show how it would look on our PC:


As we can see, the tool has three key areas: the first is the toolbar in the upper area, in which we can edit and configure our text with a multitude of possibilities. The second is the central part, in which the text we are editing takes place.

Third and last, we have a small secondary toolbar at the bottom, in which we can zoom, see the sum if we select a cell and even the average and the number of selected cells.

Likewise, Excel has an infinity of functionalities, which allows you to carry out all kinds of tasks. Although it is true, it is an easy-to-use and very intuitive tool at basic levels, but very complex and powerful when you really want to get the most out of it.

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