Retired in 2007

Retired in 2007

Software companies are reluctant to remove features from programs for fear of disrupting the workflow of customers using older versions of their programs. The most visible (and vocal) customers are large corporations with countless desktops. Nonetheless, sometimes you have to make the hard choices if features are not used often, if they cause more problems than they are worth, or if their functionality has been assimilated into a newer, better feature. Here is a list of retired (or assimilated) features:

  • The Office Assistant The animated Help characters were, shall we say, not as popular as was hoped. Alas, poor Clippit, we hardly knew ye. Please send remembrances to the Microsoft Bob Memorial Fund for Homeless Virtual Personalities. The animated Help characters from previous editions of Office, like Rocky shown here, were distracting to some users and have been retired from this edition:

    Image from book
  • Natural-language formulas (NLFs) This feature was well-intentioned but confusing and buggy, so it's gone. If you used NLFs in an existing workbook, Excel will inform you when you open it and will convert them to static cell references. Note, however, that the new structured references are better at this sort of task anyway. See "Using Structured References" on page 454.

  • Lists At one point, Microsoft's usability studies found that making lists was one of the most common tasks mentioned by users of Excel. So Microsoft expanded on that functionality with a new tables feature.

  • Open file formats The list of supported file formats used to be long indeed. Microsoft kept adding more formats with each edition. Many of them are no longer relevant or can be handled using another import or export method. Therefore, the following formats are no longer available in the Files Of Type list in the File Open dialog box: WK1, WK4, WJ3, WKS, WK3, WK1 FMT, WJ3 FJ3, WK3 FM3, WK1 ALL, WJ2, WQ1, WJ1, WKS, DBF 2, and Microsoft Excel Chart (.XLC).

  • Save file formats Microsoft has also removed many outdated file formats from the Save menus, including some of its own Excel file formats. You can now use external converters in older versions of Excel to open files saved in the new Excel 2007 format, so the following save formats are no longer available: Excel 97 - Excel 2003 & 5.0/95 Workbook, Excel 3.0 Macro, Excel 2.1 Macro, Excel 4.0 Macro, Excel 2.1 Worksheet, Excel 4.0 Worksheet, Excel 3.0 Worksheet, Excel Chart (.XLC), Excel 4.0 Workbook, DBF 4, DBF 3, WK1, WK4, WKS, WK3, WK1 FMT, WK1 ALL, DBF 2, WQ1, and WK3 FM3.

  • Lotus 1-2-3 support You might guess, judging by the file formats that are no longer available, Microsoft has finally abandoned its support for Lotus 1-2-3, but you'd be only partly right. Although you can't save or open Lotus 1-2-3 files anymore, you can still use Lotus 1-2-3 keyboard shortcuts such as pressing the slash (/) key to access the menus and then pressing "accelerator" keys to drill down the menu tree. Except, you may say, Excel doesn't really have menus anymore! Well, for accessibility's sake, these keyboard accelerators remain but are somewhat hidden. When you press the slash key, you will see KeyTips, little pop-ups containing a single letter that appear adjacent to the names of tabs and commands. This functionality replaces the little underlines you may have never noticed that appeared under the equivalent letter of each menu command in previous versions of Excel. And you can still activate what are called transition options (as in transitioning from Lotus 1-2-3 to Excel), governing the behavior of navigation keys as well as formula entry and evaluation.

  • Other Some of the new features listed earlier in this chapter supersede old features that have undergone a major evolutionary leap; others may be similar in name but radically different procedurally. Some of the old ways of doing tasks may be gone, renamed, repurposed, or simply assimilated into the collective. Such features include charting, PivotTables, graphics in general, and toolbars. We'll go into detail on the redesign of these features in later chapters.

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