Truly exciting new Excel features ... we really mean it

Options to easily import live data about stocks and locations into Excel are coming.  Microsoft is uncharacteristically quiet about these new features and not using their usual hype.

Microsoft is soft pedaling these features by talking about ‘new data types’ which sounds very dry and complicated. It looks more interesting when you see it in action.

Here’s some stock information including the latest price imported live.

No messing about with data feeds, Get and Transform etc. Just type in a stock name or code and tell Excel it’s a Stock Data type.  Excel will grab the details you want (price, time, volume etc) display and update.

It’s all very nifty … up to a point.

Or some geographical data imported from just the country or city name.

In all three cases, only the name in the left column (with the symbol) has been typed in.  The rest of the columns have been filled in by Excel from online data.

As you can see, there are some problems with the data imported plus some other, not so obvious annoyances. We’ll be looking closely at how the data types work in the real world for a future Office Watch.

Try for yourself

If you’d like to try it out, you need Excel 2016 for Windows (Office 365), English language only (for the moment) and be an ‘Office Insider’.

Look on the Data tab for a new Data Types section.

Microsoft has a post about the new feature. As you’d expect, the post skips over any problems with the data types.  For example, there’s no mention of dates and, if you try the new data types  (especially Stocks), you’ll soon discover why Microsoft is quiet on that important detail.

It’s a truly interesting jump for Excel, we only hope that the developers are allowed to improve and refine the details.  Too often, new Office features are left in a ‘half-baked’ state that looks good in a demo but difficult to use in practice.

The current data types need more work to make them truly useful.

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