One app ensures most businesses will never escape Microsoft licensing.

Wouldn’t it be nice to envision a day when you never have to use a Microsoft application or operating system again? The outfit from Redmond wouldn’t still have most of the world hooked to their licenses or O365 subscriptions if not for just one tool in their box. It’s not Active Directory, Outlook, Teams or even Word. It’s Microsoft Excel.

No other application has experienced such universal corporate adoption as Excel. No spreadsheet alternative can compete. Arguments can be made for Google Sheet’s capabilities but there simply isn’t an application in existence with more universal adoption across business departments than Excel. First introduced by Microsoft in 1982, it was a harsh knockoff of Dan Bricklin’s VisiCalc which I’m old enough to have actually used, Ugh. Excel wasn’t even popular until 1987, taking a back seat to Lotus 123 on DOS based systems. Then along came Borland’s Quattro Pro. As someone who learned C+ development on Borland’s “Turbo C” I attest that’s one company I wish was still around.

Excel really took off in 1993 at the release of Version 5.0 which for the first time introduced Macros thanks to the inclusion of Visual Basic for applications. Microsoft’s never stopped developing Excel, making it the dominate the CP/M market. That’s “Control Program for Microcomputers” which is exactly the type of app category it fell into, along with Visicalc, Lotus and Quattro Pro. They were not originally called “spreadsheets”.

Flash forward 40 years and Excel is used to design everything from Gamma Radioknife Neurological Surgery procedures to Roller Coasters. Even Excel Power Users don’t realize Excel became it’s own programming language in 2021, considered “Turing Complete” with the addition of LAMBDA function, meaning you can now write any computation in Excel Formula Language. I personally use this feature to write Microsoft SQL queries using Excel functions.

While there is a ton of criticism I personally throw at Microsoft almost daily, I will concede that for the job it does, nothing does it better than Excel. Due to Microsoft’s unwavering commitment to advancing Excel for 40 years I don’t know that anything could catch it now. This is why no matter what direction any company takes, I can’t imagine an accounting department that will settle for anything other than Excel, insuring Microsoft will always have at least one license bought an paid for by damn near every company on the planet, if not every business computer user in the future.

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