Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet program written and distributed by Microsoft for computers using the Microsoft Windowsoperating system and Apple Macintosh computers. It is overwhelmingly the dominant spreadsheet application available for these platforms and has been so since version 5 (1993) and its bundling as part of Microsoft Office. Microsoft originally marketed a spreadsheet program called Multiplan in 1982, but it lost popularity and was forgotten. Excel was developed in 1985 as a competitor to Lotus 1-2-3, and was a new product - not a revamped multiplan. It was released for the Mac in 1985 and the first Windows version (1987) was therefore version 2.0. With the introduction of Windows 3.0 in 1990, Excel started to oversell Lotus 1-2-3 and achieved 1st place in most popular software. This accomplishment, dethroning the king of the software world, solidified Microsoft as a valid competitor and showed its future of developing grapical software. The current version is 11, also called Microsoft Office Excel 2003.
Excel was the first spreadsheet that allowed the user to define the appearance of spreadsheets (fonts, character attributes and cell appearance). It also introduced intelligent cell recomputation, where only cells referenced by the cell being modified are updated, while previously spreadsheets recomputed everything all the time or waited for a specific user command.
Early in its life Excel became the target of a copyright lawsuit by another company already selling a software package named "Excel." As the result of the dispute Microsoft was required to refer to the program as "Microsoft Excel" in all of its formal press releases and legal documents. However, over time this practice has slipped.
Excel has extensive graphing capabilities, added support for Visual Basic for Applications as a scripting language in 1993 - aiming to add automation functionality, but making it a prime target for macroviruses. Excel offers a large number of user interface tweaks, but its essence is little different from the original spreadsheet, VisiCalc.