In a significant move, Microsoft has augmented the capabilities of its flagship spreadsheet tool, Excel, by officially integrating Python, a top-tier programming language known for its versatility and popularity. This integration aims to expand the horizons of data analysis, visualization tools, and more for users.
A Blend of Two Titans
Python’s inclusion in Excel offers a unique blend of the programming language’s expansive capabilities with the user-friendly interface of the spreadsheet tool. Users can now utilize Python’s foundations to craft and experiment within Excel in unprecedented ways.
Microsoft made this groundbreaking announcement through an official blog post, detailing the many advantages this integration offers. Currently, a public preview of Python in Excel is available, granting users the ability to manipulate and analyze data using Python’s built-in functionalities.
Stefan Kinnestrand, the General Manager of Modern Work at Microsoft, elaborated on the potential of this union. “You can manipulate and explore data in Excel using Python’s charts and libraries. After that, you can further refine your insights using Excel’s formulas, charts, and pivot tables,” Kinnestrand said. “Now, you can perform advanced data analysis in the familiar Excel environment by accessing Python directly from the Excel ribbon.”
Seamless Integration Without Additional Software
One of the most user-friendly aspects of this integration is the elimination of the need for additional software installations or plugins. Python will be incorporated into Excel through the built-in Power Query connectors.
To tap into Python’s functionalities within Excel, users simply need to type ‘PY’ in any cell. This process echoes the familiarity of entering ‘=’ to access Excel’s functions. Furthermore, through the Anaconda enterprise Python repository, widely recognized Python libraries such as pandas, stats-models, and Matplotlib will be at users’ fingertips within Excel.
All Python calculations will run on the Microsoft Cloud, with results reflecting on the spreadsheet once processed. This integration allows Excel users to create formulas, tables, charts, and more, all based on Python.
Availability and Future Prospects
This novel integration is initially available through the Microsoft 365 insider or beta channels. Initially, the trial will be restricted to Windows users, but plans are underway to extend it to other platforms. During the preview period, Python’s features in Excel will be bundled with the Microsoft 365 subscription. However, post-trial, certain functionalities might be accessible only with a paid license.