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Microsoft Introduces Public Preview of Python Integration in Excel for Advanced Data Analysis



Mett.Ai Tech Desk

Excel Meets Python: A New Era of Data Analysis Unveiled by Microsoft's Innovative Integration

Microsoft has unveiled an exciting new feature that will revolutionize data analysis for spreadsheet users. The company has launched the public preview of Python integration in Excel, allowing users to harness the power of Python scripting alongside their familiar Excel formulas within the same workbook.

Initially available to Microsoft 365 Insiders through the Excel for Windows beta channel, this feature opens up a world of possibilities for advanced data analysis. Users can seamlessly blend Python scripts and Excel formulas to manipulate and analyze data in unprecedented ways. The integration is set to empower users with enhanced insights and streamlined workflows.

What sets this integration apart is that while the calculations are powered by Python, they will run within the Microsoft Cloud infrastructure. This cloud-based approach may come as a surprise to some, as Python is known to perform efficiently on modern PCs. Nonetheless, Microsoft's decision to leverage the cloud for Python calculations promises to bring scalability and accessibility to users across various devices and locations.

Stefan Kinnestrand, General Manager for Modern Work at Microsoft, highlighted the user-friendly nature of this integration: "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." Kinnestrand also emphasized the ease of incorporating external data into Python in Excel workflows through Excel's built-in connectors and Power Query.

To make this integration possible, Microsoft partnered with the data science platform Anaconda. Leveraging the Anaconda Python distribution hosted on Microsoft's Azure platform, popular Python libraries such as Matplotlib and Seaborn are seamlessly integrated into Excel. This collaboration ensures that users can create stunning visualizations, enriching their data analysis experience.

To get a taste of this innovation, users need to join the Microsoft 365 Insider Program and opt for the beta channel to access the latest Excel builds. Once in, they can simply select "insert Python" in the Formulas ribbon to kickstart their Python-powered data analysis journey.

It is worth noting that while various libraries and add-ons have enabled Python users to work with Excel files in the past, Microsoft's move to natively integrate Python within Excel marks a significant step forward. Guido van Rossum, Python's creator and now a Microsoft Distinguished Engineer, expressed his excitement about this partnership: "I expect that both communities will find interesting new uses in this collaboration, amplifying each partner’s abilities. When I joined Microsoft three years ago, I would not have dreamed this would be possible."

As the public preview of Python in Excel rolls out to Microsoft 365 Insiders in the Beta Channel, it is set to pave the way for a new era of data analysis and manipulation. While the initial release is limited to Windows, Microsoft has indicated plans to extend this integration to other platforms in the near future. The feature will be available as part of a Microsoft 365 subscription during the preview, with some advanced functionality requiring a paid license after the preview period concludes.

The convergence of Excel's powerful spreadsheet capabilities and Python's versatile scripting prowess promises to reshape how users interact with their data, opening up opportunities for enhanced insights and deeper analysis. This collaboration underscores Microsoft's commitment to empowering its users with innovative tools that cater to the evolving demands of modern data analysis.

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