Microsoft has unveiled a game-changing feature for advanced spreadsheet users: the integration of Python into Excel. This groundbreaking update allows users to utilize scripts from the globally popular Python language, in conjunction with their standard Excel formulas, within a single workbook. For now, this feature will only be available to Microsoft 365 Insiders as part of the Excel for Windows beta channel. Microsoft will run Python calculations in its cloud, despite the language’s ability to run seamlessly on any modern PC, a decision that has left some questioning the tech giant’s cloud-centric approach.
Stefan Kinnestrand, GM for Modern Work at Microsoft, says, "Now you can do advanced data analysis in the familiar Excel environment by accessing Python directly from the Excel ribbon." The integration promises a hassle-free experience, requiring no setup or installation. Users can utilize Excel’s built-in connectors and Power Query to effortlessly incorporate external data into Python-Excel workflows. This innovation is a result of Microsoft’s collaboration with Anaconda, a leading data science platform, and utilizes the Anaconda Python distribution running in Azure to bring popular Python libraries, including Matplotlib and seaborn for data visualization, into Excel.
Microsoft Introduces Python in Excel for Advanced Data Analysis
Microsoft has recently revealed the public preview of Python integration in Excel. This innovative feature is aimed at providing enhanced functionality for advanced spreadsheet users. It allows users to blend scripts in the popular Python language and conventional Excel formulas in the same workbook, offering a seamless experience.
Rolling Out to Microsoft 365 Insiders
Initially, this feature will be made accessible to Microsoft 365 Insiders as part of the Excel for Windows beta channel. Despite the feature’s availability only in the desktop version of Excel at the outset, Microsoft has clarified that Python calculations will be executed in the Microsoft Cloud. The reasoning behind this cloud-based approach is unclear, given Python’s optimal performance on any modern PC.
Seamless Python Integration
Stefan Kinnestrand, the GM for Modern Work at Microsoft, highlights the benefits of this integration. He states, “Now you can do advanced data analysis in the familiar Excel environment by accessing Python directly from the Excel ribbon. No setup or installation is required. Using Excel’s built-in connectors and Power Query, you can easily bring external data into Python in Excel workflows.”
Collaboration with Anaconda
In order to make this feature possible, Microsoft has joined forces with the data science platform, Anaconda. They are utilizing the Anaconda Python distribution running in Azure to bring the most popular Python libraries to Excel. This includes renowned libraries such as Matplotlib and seaborn for data visualization.
How to Access the Feature
Users interested in testing this feature can join the Microsoft 365 Insider Program and opt for the beta channel to access the latest Excel builds. Once in, users can simply select “insert Python” in the Formulas ribbon to get started.
Existing Python Integrations
It’s worth mentioning that there have been libraries available for Python users to work with Excel files, and paid Excel add-ons like PyXLL that bring Python’s functionality to Microsoft’s spreadsheets.
Microsoft’s effort to integrate Python into Excel signifies a significant step towards enhanced spreadsheet functionality for advanced users. By leveraging the power of Python, Microsoft is effectively bridging the gap between traditional spreadsheet use and advanced data analysis. This fusion of Python and Excel could potentially revolutionize the way data is analyzed and visualized, making it a noteworthy development in the tech world.