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How can we improve Excel for Windows (Desktop Application)?


It has been nearly a year since an admin provided an update on the idea, “Restore MDI file handling (open all files in one window); Kill SDI (each spreadsheet opens in a seperate window)”

Please provide an update. Are you still accepting votes and considering restoration of MDI? Or, should we start looking for alternative products and pirate software to return to a more effective Excel version?

Again, here are the issues:

1. Stability
* I experience ~3X Excel crashes in 2016 (SDI) as compared to 2010 (MDI)
* Microsoft claims Excel is more stable, but my experience is the exact opposite

2. Screen Space / Real Estate
* Drastically reduced screen space when each workbook requires its own Ribbon, Quick Access Toolbar and Formula Bar
* 4 workbooks arranged in MDI – 896 visible cells; 4 workbooks arranged in SDI – 560 visible cells. This is a 63% reduction of space. This is not a linear relationship – you lose a larger amount of space with each additional workbook.
* At most, you can only work with 2 workbooks arranged Horizontally
* Arranging Vertically compresses the Ribbons to a point of complete uselessness
* Using multiple monitors should not be a solution for a poorly designed/downgraded product (SDI)

3. Toolbar to Workbook Confusion
* One Ribbon + Quick Access Toolbar + Formula Bar to control all workbooks is far less confusing (MDI)
* In SDI, each workbook remembers its own Ribbon setting creating additional work with redundant tasks. If you want to cycle through ~10 workbooks and change anything (Font, Page Layout, View), you must change the Ribbon on all 10 workbooks. Then, if you want to change something different, you must change each Workbook Ribbon again. This is massive waste of time/productivity
* WebEx screen sharing is virtually impossible and difficult to share a desired workbook (see **************** comment on 26-Oct-2018).

4. Navigation Between Workbooks
*a. With MDI, Ctl+Tab and Ctl+Shift+Tab worked flawlessly to cycle (forwards/backwards) through all open workbooks in a single instance of Excel. Using the same key combinations in SDI, I always see a screen “blip” of the last used non-Excel program – why? Even worse, sometimes it cycles a non-Excel program into the mix. When I’m trying to cycle between two workbooks, I do NOT want Windows Explorer thrown into the cycle!

5. Links (across workbooks)
* Ability to update links between workbooks is less flexible – sometimes you want links to update and sometimes you do not. In the past, we could easily open a new/separate instance of Excel and prevent links from updating between workbooks. Now, it is far more difficult to open a new/separate instance of Excel and it is more confusing to work between 2 instances

6. VBA – macro instability
* Running macros between multiple Excel Workbooks is not consistent in SDI – sometimes it will choose the next workbook, sometimes it does not. There are a lot of comments on this topic. I can only imagine the countless hours of VBA work that have been destroyed by the forced SDI

7. Closing Workbooks
* With MDI, you could close and save ALL workbooks with a couple of mouse clicks. In SDI, you must close and save each workbook individually. If you have ~10 large workbooks open at once this will require you to stay engaged in the process as you will be forced to wait for each workbook to save, so you can save and close the next workbook (another massive waste of time/productivity).

8. Opening Workbooks
*With MDI, we could count on workbooks to open and be sized where we had saved them. Now, they open in the exact same size and cascade – WHY? How would you like to go to your desk every day, only to find everything in a different drawer? That’s not where you put it last time you used it?... so why keep moving things on us?

9. Minimize/Maximize Workbooks
* Per ************************* post on 6-Aug-2018, working with 12 workbooks, with MDI you could use 3 mouse clicks, but with SDI it now takes 18 mouse clicks. Do you think the customer desires to use their mouse more? **** was one of the lucky ones to revert back to 2010… but we’ll see her on this post in the future.

10. Excel alternative?
* 2010 is the only alternative at this point but will Microsoft will end support on 13-Oct-2020 (unfortunately, my I/T team will not put 2010 back on my PC)
* Office 2019 – I have not determined if MDI will be restored, but given the absence of feedback from **** (the admin of this page) I am not optimistic.
* Other products (e.g. Google Sheets) requires a massive time investment to learn a new product. I’m not afraid to learn something new, but it is difficult to carve the time out of my day. Most of the products I’ve explored have some limitations/deal breakers compared to Excel. Even with the massive downgrade from MDI to SDI, it is still a better product in my opinion.

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  • Daniel commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Assuming MDI / SDI refers to whether workbooks open as separate Excel windows, I absolutely disagree with that part of your suggestion. I'm stuck on Office 2010 at work but have Office 365 at home so I'm on the latest version. I never have trouble managing Excel windows at home but at work it's a nightmare. At most there should be an option available for users to choose which behaviour they want, but Microsoft should absolutely not force a return to that archaic monstrosity.

    I regularly find that after opening a second or third workbook the Excel icon on the Windows 10 taskbar flattens to a single instance and the little preview thumbnails only shows one of the workbooks - usually the last one to be opened. I have to restore or minimise the workbook **inside Excel** to find and switch between the other workbooks. Once it happens the problem does not go away until I fully close all instances of Excel and start again.

    If you manually open multiple Excel windows to separate the workbooks then often copy-paste breaks down. It either refuses to copy functions and pastes them as values when you just copy the cell, instead of from the formula bar, or it simply says that the data could not be pasted and you have to close all instances of Excel and try again.

    If you want to display two workbooks side by side across two screens, all the ribbon and menus are left-aligned so working on the right-hand workbook is a nightmare as you have to move the mouse all the way over to the far side of the left screen to click a menu option and then move all the way back over to the right screen to click on cells. It's disgusting.

  • John Loach commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Add the UNDO stack mess to the list.
    It should be specific to the DI you are using and not jump across to the other DIs

  • Pablo commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Hi, make it an option but not mandatory. Those who want to go back to old way can but those who want to stay with the new way are able to. I don't see it as being that hard to do, I mean you already have two products that already to one of the options, just make it something the user can specify

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    In terms of stability the Excel sheet require more work for the stability as it usually hangs on working with multiple sheets or on working with older version of excel sheets

  • Roy commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    The new interface is like some 5yo's refrigerator drawing. "Crude" begins to describe it, but antonyms to "graceful" like "graceless" (not to mention "hideous") well describe the aesthetic.

    I guess they're saying today's new users, and the more recent ones like 00's Yuppies, I mean Hiptsers, have no sense of form and function that does not include the words "childish" and "garish"... so complimentary MS.

    I get that it was not written for me, that I share it with my closest 800,000,000 million friends. So the part that bugs me most is the losses of funcitonality. For instance, did a loss of beauty and grace really HAVE to include a loss of ability to work with sheets by navigating them? It would seem like they could have just made the tabs bigger, crayoned in them, and left the functional programming the same. But no.

    So the appearance, and its actually required (only given that you're shifting from fine point gel pens to Crayola's box of eight starter crayons with six of them removed) real estate losses (all the framework components can't get bigger without the real estate disappearing) are just sad par-for-the-course victims of marketing and "our product's too boring since it hasn't had a facelift in years" thinking.

    But what about that required going under the hood and ripping out functionality? ADD TO functionality? That's rather understandable. Rip it out? Not understandable.

    Here's a thought: How about the build the framework as its own unit, so to speak, with choices available for sizing it. So my vision is weaker nowadays? I set the framework to be at 120% the shipping version "normal" and so buttons are bigger, the ribbon is bigger, tabs are bigger, and so on. Jim would prefer 80%? Great. All that is smaller for Jim. And all the rest is real estate.

    What's the difference? NOW you can magnify or reduce the size of what is being termed "real estate": your actual worksheet space. The framwork stays how it came. So instead of reducing the infrastructure to increase the working space, all I can do is affect the sizing in the workspace.

    It could even be written to set the framework as desired, above, and when you activate a portion of it, say the ribbon, it would blow up from (or reduce to) your standard framework sizing to full installed shipping sizing.

    Lordy though, this current aesthetic is like that drawing the angry little daughter made of the family and Daddy says "Sweety, where's good old Daddy?" and she yanks it away and comes back shortly and points... we're just saying "Hey, MS sweety, where's good old User?" and they are angrily handing it back, pointing to the tombstone in the corner...

  • JohnyL commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    @Alan Odom

    1) SPACING
    I even have made a couple of screenshots to see the difference: 1) and 2) As you can see, a HUGE waste of space! QAT icons are just huge/

    2) COLOR
    The only theme that has a little of color is white. Other themes are just COLORLESS. It's awful and disgusting.

    3) RIBBON
    The awful management of Ribbon appearing/disappearing. Office 2010 had nice little button in the right side of Ribbon. All you needed was to press that button. Office 2019 doesn't have such ability. Now you have to press 1) "Ribbon Display Options" button; 2) find appropriate menu (don't mess it!) and 3) click that selection. Three moves versus one! Moreover, "Auto-hide Ribbon" mode is slow - Ribbon doesn't show up immediately, but with delay. Perhaps, on fast computers this is not noticeable, but on my notebook the delay is almost 1 second.

    4) "Info" TAB IN BACKSTAGE
    This page has useful info - the full path to workbook. Now it's gone.

    In Autofilter's serch field the context menu (Copy/Cut/Paste) IS STILL MISSING. Every time I have to get my hands over keyboard and press Ctrl+V instead of right-click=>Paste.

    Why changing navigation between sheets? Now I have to hold Ctrl to move to last or first page.

    7) "Sign in" button and "Ribbon Display Options" takes space away from workbook name in title.

  • [Deleted User] commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate


    This was discussed a bit in #1 and #5.
    Yes – it is far more difficult to open a separate Excel instance with SDI. You have to type “excel.exe /x” from a run command (Windows – Run Desktop app).

  • JohnyL commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    @Alan Odom
    You missed one important thing: crash. In Office 2010 it is possible to launch several separate EXCEL.EXE processes! Say, I have two EXCEL.EXE processes. If a workbook in second EXCEL.EXE hangs or Excel itself crashes - IT DOESN'T AFFECT FIRST EXCEL.EXE!! A workbook in first EXCEL.EXE continues functioning perfectly. I use this feature A LOT, because I have big tables, and quite often workbooks just hang (because of lots of calculations etc.). Moreover, any operation (like long calculation) in NO WAY affects other EXCEL.EXE! Today in Excel 2019 one of the workbook just hung - and I couldn't get back to another workbook, because, well, EXCEL.EXE is SINGLE!!!! This just disappoints me - and I'm thinking to get back to Excel 2010. Period.

  • AnonymousAlso commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I have happily voted for this idea, that "MS should respond on comments". While I believe all threads should contain MS feedback, at least the top ranked ones should be of notable interest to MS. This idea might get more votes if the description were more simple, and with no specific request made, only asking that MS post a response and close this idea for comments. It appears that Microsoft no longer uses this website, any comment from any admin would let people know that excel.uservoice is a functional website

  • [Deleted User] commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    ********* it is true - you don’t understand.

    There are 865 votes on a different thread (basically tied for 7th) asking for MDI to be restored. Many of the people who voted, turned around and downgraded to Excel 2010 so they could get back to MDI – this is actually considered an upgrade to most of us. They no longer endure the frustration of SDI. Once support of Excel 2010 completely ends, they will be back. We’re already starting to see the number of comments and votes increase in the past few months. So, we started this second post in an attempt to get Microsoft to at least provide an update. It has been nearly a month with zero response.

  • Mathew commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    with so few votes and comments, I can understand why this is not being looked at

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Chris - We understand that YOU don't like having all of your workbooks in same window. What this group of people is asking for is simply having the CHOICE. I have reasons for hating, hating, HATING the interface that opens each workbook in a separate window. One of those is that when I do open a second excel instance, I have no way of knowing in which instance a workbook is opened.

  • Chris commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Wait...having Excel open in another workbook is a downgrade??? I cry a little inside every time I get stuck using an older version of excel where all my files open in the same workbook. I hate working that way, I am all for an option to drag and drop files into a common workbook, but really I wouldn't use it. A lot of times I am switching between workbooks with alt+tab, and sometimes I have two side by side. But I never seem to want them stuck inside the same window. Maybe I never got used to it, but I hate it. So I am quite glad they open in separate windows. I guess it is particularly annoying when working on multiple screens. I want different excel workbooks open on different screens, which is a pain if all workbooks are stuck in one window. Yeah you can get around that by launching a new instance of excel and then browsing to the file you want to open within that new excel instance. But that's a pain.

  • db22 commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    We need a journalist from a major tech or business magazine to write an article, both on the crippling of Excel and on Microsoft's refusal to respond to complaints. It wouldn't need to be highly technical article--everyone can understand tool bars covering up screen real estate. Companies who actually need Excel to be functional should be warned before they upgrade. Clearly Microsoft only cares about money and not about putting out a good product. But if enough large corporations tell MS that they will not upgrade until the issue is fixed, MS might finally pay attention.

  • AnonymousAlso commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    There are 2 issues raised with Microsoft now, and these are different topics. We would be good to keep them separate. 2 issues:
    1) MDI/SDI. That has another thread, not this one. An excellent summary is in the description above. That other MDI issue thread has effort in it, that requires some design and development to resolve. This other thread covers more than just MDI/SDI topics and is excellent feedback for a MS developer.
    2) Respond to comments. That is this thread. If Microsoft responds, this issue is resolved. No design or development needed. It has been 1 year since MS responded on anything. The goal of this thread is to see if Microsoft is in any way using this website.

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