Excel: Help Make Excel 2017 Better

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Problem: I have a few ideas about how I'd like Excel to operate differently. Other people must be having similar problems. How can I communicate my ideas to Microsoft?

Strategy: Opt-in to the Customer Experience Improvement program. Say that you installed Excel on a Monday. On the third day that you used Excel, a question would appear: "œWould you like to make Excel better?" If you answered yes on that day, then you are participating in the Customer Experience Improvement Program. Participants in this program allow Microsoft to track how they invoke commands. Microsoft will learn if you copy by using Ctrl+C, right-click, Copy, Home, Copy, or another method; it will track your actions, along with those of the millions of other people who signed up. Currently, Microsoft has a database of 750 billion user experiences.

Before Excel 2003, Microsoft used a lot of conjecture about which commands were the most popular. In Excel 2007, it was able to query the database to find out exactly which commands are popular.

On the flip side, Microsoft can also use this data to prove that hardly anyone is using a command and can argue to take it out of a future product. But remember that with 750 million users, "œhardly anyone" works out to a stadium full of people. Maybe only 0.01% of Excel 2003 customers used natural language formulas; but this works out to 75,000 people who will be angry to learn that the feature was removed from Excel 2007.

Additional Details: Did you ever use Wrap Text in Excel 2003? I did. Say that I had 10 columns of data, and 1 column had really long customer responses in column H. I would typically select this column and then select Format, Cells, Alignment, Wrap Text. However, I might then notice that all the data in A:G and I:J was set to vertical align bottom, making the data not line up with the now-wrapped text in column I. I would have to select A:G and then select Format, Cells, Alignment, Vertical, Top. In all, this process required 17 mouse clicks. In Excel 2003, there was not a Wrap Text icon that you could add to your toolbars, and the Vertical Align icons were not a part of the formatting toolbar.

Well, there must have been a million other people participating in the Customer Experience Improvement Program who had this same issue. Microsoft heard loud and clear that Wrap Text, followed by Vertical Align Top is a popular sequence of commands. In response, you now have one-click access to a Wrap Text icon on the Home tab of the ribbon. The Vertical Align Top icon is near the Wrap Text icon.