Spreadsheet Co-authoring Comes to Microsoft Excel on Windows Desktop

The addition of the new co-authoring feature in Microsoft Excel for Windows makes spreadsheet number crunching a group activity.

Microsoft Excel

Co-authoring, a feature that first appeared in the web-based Office applications, is finally available in Excel on Windows desktops. 

As its name implies, co-authoring allows multiple users to work on the same spreadsheet file at the same time. "This allows you to know who else is working with you in a spreadsheet, see where they’re working and view changes automatically within seconds," wrote Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team, in a March 28 blog post.

Microsoft is giving members of the Office Insiders early-access program, who are enrolled in the Fast Ring, first crack at co-authoring before a broader rollout. In addition to Excel Online, the feature is also present in Excel on Android, Windows Mobile and iOS. Koenigsbauer added that is team is working on enabling the feature for Mac users.

Meanwhile, the software maker is also helping Office users avoid losing work when mishaps occur.

Save early, save often isn't just good advice for stockpiling money for retirement, but also for working with Office files. Soon, the company will activate its AutoSave feature on the Windows desktop versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint when used with files stored OneDrive, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online.

The March updates for Office also brings new digital inking features to OneNote. The Math Assistant feature within the notetaking app can now graph equations entered by hand and allows users to tinker with variables to view how the changes visually affect a graph. OneNote Online, the browser-based version of the app, now features a Draw tab that enables on-screen inking with a stylus.

A new integration between Visio, Excel and PowerPoint now enables users to create flowcharts using Excel data and export them as a presentation.

"Create a flowchart directly from Excel in a few clicks using the new Data Visualizer templates," instructed Koenigsbauer. "Then, use the new Slide Snippets pane to select specific diagrams or snippets, title them and export as slides in a new PowerPoint presentation."

This latest batch of Office updates join two major Office 365 releases this month.

Earlier this week, Microsoft expanded the availability of Bookings, the company's self-service online scheduling service for small businesses. Now Office 365 Business Premium users across the globe (it originally debuted last summer in the United States and Canada) can offer their customers online appointment bookings that synchronize with their internal calendars.

On March 14, Microsoft announced the general availability of Teams, the company's answer to Slack, the popular chat-based collaboration tool.

Microsoft Teams bears many similarities to Slack, but it's the product's tight integration with Office 365 and price that may win businesses over.

"Microsoft Teams is poised to gain market share quickly because the collaboration tool is free to use for companies that subscribe to Office 365, which has a huge and still-growing user base," Spiceworks IT analyst Peter Tsai told eWEEK recently while discussing a recent Spiceworks analysis of the workplace collaboration software market.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.