They might be perceived as boring, but spreadsheets are incredibly useful and versatile, and their success can be largely put down to the existence of Microsoft Excel. It’s long been considered one of the strongest elements in the Microsoft Office canon, which might explain why the 2010 version doesn’t really add an awful lot to the feature list.
There are some additional tools to help with data comparison: Sparklines allow you to view tiny charts that fit within a cell alongside your data, while “Slicer” functionality is designed to help you filter large amounts of information quickly. There’s also a Search Filter option when analysing tables, PivotTables and PivotCharts, which claims to allow you to quickly find the information you’re looking for from up to a million items. Need help manipulating large data sets? There’s a new free add-in for that, called PivotTable for Excel 2010.
Other new features are common to other Office 2010 apps too: Excel replaces the Office button with a new File option on the ribbon: click this and you’re taken to the Office Backstage view, which is where you’ll find all the options normally associated with the File menu. It provides a centralised view for all your file management tasks, although it feels more intrusive than the old Office button was. However, when you consider that Office Backstage contains document recovery options such as recovering unsaved changes to files you accidentally closed, we can just about forgive this oversight.
The rest of the ribbon appears much as it does in Office 2007, although it can now be tweaked and customised more easily to your personal needs. The collaborative tools have also been overhauled, and you can now work simultaneously on a document through your browser. The changes may not be revolutionary, but they help maintain Excel’s position as the world’s best spreadsheet.
This is the version for professional users. Home and educational users should take a look at Excel Home and Student 2010 instead.
Note that there's no trial version of Excel 2010. You can try the Office 2010 suite.