Microsoft has unveiled a public preview of Python integration in Excel, a move that will allow users to input Python code directly into spreadsheets. This development aims to enhance the capabilities of Microsoft Excel by leveraging Python's robust data analysis and visualization libraries.
Python Meets Excel: A Seamless Integration
In an official blog post, Microsoft says this integration will empower data analysts, engineers, marketers, and students in data science to utilize Python for complex statistical analysis, advanced visualizations, predictive analytics, and machine learning within Excel. Users can input Python code into cells using the new =PY function, eliminating the need for additional software installations. The integration uses the Anaconda distribution of Python, which is tailored for data scientists and engineers but remains beginner-friendly. This distribution includes popular libraries like pandas, Matplotlib, scikit-learn, NumPy, and SciPy.
Enhanced Data Analysis and Visualization
The Python support extends Excel's existing data science features. For instance, users can write a Python script to scan Excel data for duplicate fields, which can then be removed to enhance analysis accuracy. Python can also be employed to generate data visualizations and train machine learning models. Stefan Kinnestrand, a general manager for product marketing at Microsoft, mentioned that users can explore data in Excel using Python plots and libraries and then refine insights using Excel's formulas, charts, and PivotTables.
Python in Excel operates on the Microsoft Cloud, ensuring enterprise-level security within the Microsoft 365 experience. All code calculations are executed on a Microsoft Cloud server and then returned to the Excel app, including any plots and visualizations. This cloud-based approach ensures that data remains secure and only authorized operations are executed. Furthermore, users can share workbooks and Python analytics in tools like Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Outlook, facilitating collaboration.
Public Preview and Future Plans
Currently, the public preview of Python in Excel is available to Microsoft 365 Insiders using the Beta Channel in Excel for Windows. As per the Microsoft Tech Community, this feature will soon be extended to other Excel platforms. While the feature is in public preview, Microsoft 365 subscribers can access the Python functionalities in Excel without additional costs. However, post-preview, certain features might require an additional fee.
A video on Microsoft Excel's YouTube channel emphasized the combination of Python's data analysis and visualization capabilities with Excel's familiar features. The video description also provided a link for users to try Python in Excel.
Several organizations have already expressed their enthusiasm for this integration. For instance, Greg Barnes, Executive Director of Data and Analytics at McKinney, stated that the ability to run Python in Excel streamlines their reporting workflows. Similarly, Rebecca Olson, Sr. Portfolio Director at McGraw Hill, highlighted the potential benefits for educators and students.
Monospaced Font in Excel's Formula Box
In other Excel this week, Microsoft has brought support for monospaced font in the formula box of the spreadsheet app. The introduction of a monospaced font to the formula bar promises users improved readability and functionality.
The formula bar's appearance changes when users edit or create a formula in it. This does not affect how the spreadsheet looks, only the formula bar. The official announcement shows an example of how the new proportional font improves the alignment and readability of the formulas compared to the old monospaced font. The new font is in Beta testing on Windows and will be available soon for Excel for Windows users. User feedback and response will determine if the new font will be extended to other platforms.