ExCel (ThoughtStorms)

MicroSoft's world dominating spreadsheet.

What I once said on PlatformWars: http://platformwars.blogspot.com.br/2007/04/paul-graham-thinks-microsoft-is-dead.html

> This is something I'm trying to think about more. Excel is a truly great piece of software; it's Microsoft's masterpiece. Word is an OK Word Processor. Access is A.N.Other database. Powerpoint is ... well frankly let's not go there.

> But Excel is wonderful. It's the universal, "Swiss Army" desktop solution with dozens of little functional "blades". Want a "to-do" list? Excel. Want a status report? Excel? Want to do some calculations? Excel. Want to do some basic string processing? I write VBA macros for the same kinds of simple data crunching that I'd use Perl for in Unix. Want to make a couple of graphs and charts? Excel. Want to mock up some forms? Want to make tables of data and sort and filter them? You guessed it ...

> And not only does Excel does all this, it makes it all pretty intuitive. Have a look at how they do Pivot Tables for an example of something pretty slick.

> No-one else is even close. Not Google's online spreadsheet. Not Open Office's attempts at catching up. Not WikiCalc. Microsoft's advantage with Excel is undisputed. It's all theirs to throw away.

> And what sucks most about Excel? The fact that people are always mailing spreadsheets around to each other and they have trouble keeping a single, up-to-date copy between them. What they need is Excel socialized. And where's socialized Excel? Caught up in turf-wars and lost behind a bunch of vague, confusing products like "SharePoint" and technologies like Excel Services.

> Now, if I ran Microsoft, and I was worried about Microsoft being dead, I'd be making the most I could of Excel : pumping money and smart people and advertising into it, setting up skunk-works, hiring clever explainers to get simple messages out, as loudly and clearly as possible.

> In particular I'd have :

> * Excel Studio : a complete development environment for people to build new applications on top of the Excel engine or to compile spreadsheet-based prototypes into other pieces of software.

> * A Social Excel : the Excel client would allow many people to work on a shared spreadsheet either via a central web-server, LAN server, or simply sync. multiple users together over P2P (imagine something like a Skype call working on one spreadsheet.)

> * Excel Live : a free, central web-based server to set up groups sharing the same spreadsheet with (obviously) Wiki-like (WikiCalc-like) hyper-linking between spreadsheets

> * Excel Express : a completely free-as-in-beer cut-down version of Excel that anyone could download and use to work on a shared spreadsheet. I'd want Excel Express to be as easily available and viral as Skype or Pando.

> 99% of the world's "semi-structured" data is not in Microformats but in tables in spreadsheets. And, Microsoft pretty much own that. But there's a huge demand (and opportunity) to put it all on the internet. Like I say, this is Microsoft's platform to lose.