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John Paul Cook

BI Beginner: Why to Use Excel 2013 Now

Most corporations and many individuals are slow to adopt new versions of Microsoft Office, particularly if the upgrade to the previous version was very recent. Excel 2013 is a special case and offers significant productivity enhancements. If you do business intelligence work or otherwise make your living with Excel, adding (notice I didn’t say upgrading to) Excel 2013 now makes a lot of sense.

The Power View feature in Excel 2013 (Office Professional version) is a completely sufficient reason to add Excel 2013. It has to be enabled, which is explained further down in this post. As the Office 2013 installation help documentation tells us, “Except for Microsoft Outlook, you can have two versions of Microsoft Office programs installed on the same computer.”

Here’s what I installed along with Excel 2013:


Figure 1. Custom installation adding Excel 2013 and Office 2013 tools to an existing full installation of Office 2010 Pro.

Notice that OCR, which was removed from Office 2010, is back.

One nice feature of Excel 2013 is that each file you open has its own window.

A really helpful new feature is the ability to compare Excel workbooks. You can find this feature under Office 2013 tools. There is a similar tool for comparing Access databases. You really didn’t think Database Compare 2013 was for SQL Server, did you?


Figure 2. Spreadsheet Compare 2013 compares versions of Excel workbooks.

Here is what Spreadsheet Compare 2013 looks like when it is first opened.


Figure 3. Spreadsheet Compare 2013 before loading files to compare.


Figure 4. Dialog box for specifying files to compare.

In this example, the Excel workbook old.xslx uses an unweighted grade calculation that incorrectly reports that a student is passing. Workbook new.xslx uses a weighted grade calculation that correctly reports that the student is failing. The difference is in the formula used. Notice that the comparison tool easily and clearly identifies not only the different data values but also the different formulas.


Figure 5. Differences between the two workbooks.

The ability to compare Excel workbooks may by itself justify the addition of at least some parts of Office 2013.

To enable PowerPivot and PowerView, open a spreadsheet, go to File and then select Options in Excel 2013. Select Add-Ins. On the Manage dropdown menu, select COM add-ins and then click the Go button.


Figure 6. Excel 2013 Options menu.

On the COM Add-Ins menu, check Microsoft Office PowerPivot for Excel 2013 and Power View, then click OK.


Figure 7. COM Add-Ins menu.

After adding PowerPivot, it appears as a new item in the menu bar.


Power View is an impressive new feature that will be discussed in upcoming posts.

Published Tuesday, November 20, 2012 5:59 PM by John Paul Cook

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Jes Oxenskiold-samsøe said:

Hi John, I myself is a big admirer of Excel and power pivot and hopefully, in a while, power View as well.

I was just wondering if the inclusion of power view and power pivot is a Professional plus exclusive or will they be included in other excel versions as well (ie Home and business etc)

Thanks. I'm looking forward to your post on power view

November 21, 2012 12:49 PM

John Paul Cook said:

November 21, 2012 1:08 PM

Hugh said:

So am I correct that Power View and Power Pivot are only available in versions which are subscription based? Stated another way, if I spend $399 for office 2013 professional then I still don't have access to these add-ins?



February 7, 2013 1:22 AM

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About John Paul Cook

John Paul Cook is a database and Azure specialist in Houston. He previously worked as a Data Platform Solution Architect in Microsoft's Houston office. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was a SQL Server MVP. He is experienced in SQL Server and Oracle database application design, development, and implementation. He has spoken at many conferences including Microsoft TechEd and the SQL PASS Summit. He has worked in oil and gas, financial, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. John is also a Registered Nurse currently studying to be a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Contributing author to SQL Server MVP Deep Dives and SQL Server MVP Deep Dives Volume 2. Connect on LinkedIn

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