Excel 2003 vs. Excel 2007
One of the most important changes from Excel 2003 to Excel 2007 has to do with the amount of data you can store in any one worksheet. Excel 2003 is confined to only 65,536 (2^16) rows and 256 (2^8) columns. For many of today’s large applications, this is no longer adequate.
Excel 2007 lifts this restriction allowing 1,048,576 (2^20) rows and 16,384 (2^14) columns. If you need to store a tremendous amount of data in an Excel worksheet, you will run into storage limitations in Excel 2003.
Excel 2007’s pivot table creation tools make this version a must if you use this feature a lot in your spreadsheets. In addition, Excel 2007 is essential if you work with others who use this version of Microsoft’s spreadsheet application.
Although plug-ins exist to eliminate some of the problems of mixing cross-version files, the headaches just aren’t worth the effort of avoiding the cost of upgrading. For example, unlike Excel 2003, the 2007 version supports much better manipulation and storage of graphics. Excel 2007’s improved graphics tools make adding images into your spreadsheets much easier and more convenient.
For back office users and developers, Excel 2007’s XML format makes integration with external data sources much easier. In addition, you can use Excel 2007’s calculation engine and algorithms with other applications; no such luck with Excel 2003.
There are, of course, some negative aspects to upgrading to Excel 2007. First, while Excel 2003 uses the old but familiar drop-down and toolbar menu system, Excel 2007 utilizes the new Office 2007 Ribbon. The Ribbon has been met with mixed emotions over its usefulness. Those familiar with the original menu system will definitely see an initial slowdown in productivity until the new Ribbon system is learned. Making matters worse is the strangely missing ability to convert Excel 2007 to work and look like Excel 2003.
Second, those who use a lot of macros are likely going to find that Excel 2007 is slower, harder to use, and outright stubborn. Some users report macros operating at significantly slower speeds in Excel 2007 vs Excel 2003, sometimes on a scale of 2, 5, or even 10 times slower. If you record many macros or intend to import them from Excel 2003 to 2007, be prepared for a variety of issues related to performance and usability.