Are These Missing for You in Excel 2013?
The Short Answer is That You Need “Pro Plus” – “Professional” is NOT Enough
Overdue Post in Response to a Popular Question
I’ve been getting tons of questions about this – in email, twitter, on forums, etc.
The questions all go something like this: “Hey Rob I just bought Office 2013, went to enable PowerPivot, and it’s not there! It was supposed to be included in 2013 right?”
It’s a fair question of course. And yes, my original expectation was precisely that – it would be in 2013 for everyone.
Well the short version is that Microsoft took PowerPivot and Power View OUT of most versions of Office 2013.
We will now pause for a moment of disappointed silence
If you want to know how to “fix” this problem, skip to the end of the post. First, I want to tell a story, because the innards of MS are often something that interests people.
“Why Would They Do Such a Thing??”
This is, of course, the next natural question. And as luck has it, I have a LOT of personal experience with precisely this kind of thing, from back in my days working on the Excel team.
In short the answer is that this is probably Access’s “fault.” I’m only half serious. But only half joking too.
Let’s jump in the Wayback Machine and visit a time known as Excel 2003. (And yes, I know that for many people, Excel 2003 sadly still represents “today,” but let’s not dwell on that ok?)
As we got close to releasing Office 2003, the Marketing team came to us with a problem: not enough customers were buying Office Professional anymore. Too many people were buying Office Standard.
Since Professional was priced a good bit higher than Standard, this clearly was Not A Good Thing. In fact, it was never Microsoft’s intent for ANYONE to buy Standard. Standard existed just so that Professional could exist by contrast. Standard was the item on the menu that the restaurant never wanted you to order.
The only difference, back then, between Standard and Professional was whether Access was included. Professional had it, Standard lacked it. And, sadly, corporations were using Access less and less, so they started buying Standard.
To combat this, Marketing had an idea: let’s take some features of the OTHER applications out of Standard! The question they asked us engineers was this: “What did you guys put into this version of Excel that won’t be used by everyone? Give us that list so we can figure out what we should remove from Standard.”
At first, I was flattered. And then…
Have You Ever Used This Feature of Excel?
The XML Thing? Lie to Me. Say Yes.
2003 was the first time I was a “Lead” on any project at MS. And it was the first time that I ever conceived an entire feature idea, got it approved, led the team that built it, and shepherded it through release.
For me that was a Big Deal. In hindsight it was a “niche” feature. But at the time, XML was a “hot” topic in data circles, and all of us expected that if we didn’t add XML capabilities to Excel, we’d regret it. So we didn’t realize that this feature was destined for obscurity. (It was only on the NEXT release of Excel, 2007, that I studied under David Gainer and became wiser about such things).
But there weren’t many features in Excel 2003, period. The entire Office organization had been instructed to do “web stuff” for that release (about 10 years early, it seems) and left only skeleton crews working on the regular applications. This was a closely guarded secret. I was part of the skeleton crew.
So when Marketing came to me and said “hey, we want to use YOUR feature to help sell Professional,” I was pretty stoked. At first.
But this turned out to be a Very Bad Idea. I vividly remember the Excel MVP’s and their reaction to the decision to remove the XML feature from Standard:
“If I can’t rely on my customers ALL having this feature, I can’t build any solutions or workbooks using the feature. So I will completely ignore the XML feature.”
-basically any Excel MVP
This idea of removing features from Standard was such a universal disaster that the very first thing we did in Office 2007 was to put all features back into all versions of Office.
“So why are they doing it again??? Are they EVIL???”
“I Want YOU to Buy the Premium SKU’s of Office”
Nope, this is not Microsoft being evil. This is just the (sometimes foolish) thing that happens at massive companies where each division has its own success factors. Two big things are in play here:
1) The people associated with the last round of this, in 2003, are gone now. And to be honest, it’s a pretty solid idea on paper. I can’t blame anyone for thinking of it. None of us knew how poorly it was going to work out ahead of time. But when everyone associated with the last round has moved on, the institutional memory is gone, so it needs to be re-learned.
2) What is “good” for Office might not be what’s “good” for SQL. Remember, the SQL team are the folks who built PowerPivot. And it was their decision to give PowerPivot away for free (on the desktop anyway) in Excel 2010. But now that Office controls what goes in the box, well, PowerPivot fell under the watchful gaze of Office Marketing, who still is under orders (pressure!) to sell more of the higher-end SKU’s (flavors) of Office. And boy, was PowerPivot a tempting target.
Here’s where it gets clumsy: Microsoft is going to win the BI war by embracing the fact that most “BI” takes place in Excel. And winning the BI war is going to be very, very lucrative for them. I’m pretty sure most of the SQL team “gets” that. But the Office team looked at this and, with a shallower perspective on BI, said “well BI is an Enterprise thing. The average individual user won’t need that, so let’s use that stuff to differentiate!”
The line between “BI” and “Excel” has always been awkward and artificial. Accepting that line to be “blurry,” and building tools that make us more productive on the boundary, is the smartest thing MS has done in a long time. We can credit the SQL team for this – ironic perhaps, but true.
My expectation is that this is the Office team not getting the message about the line being blurry. It’s understandable that they “missed the memo” so to speak – the BI market is just a fraction of their radar screen. But at bare minimum this seems like a breakdown in internal communication.
“OK, so I need Pro Plus. Cool, I’ll just order it from Amazon.”
Right. You need the Pro Plus flavor. But wrong. You can’t get it from Amazon. Or any store really.
That’s the quirkiest part of this whole story. It’s only available through volume licensing or when bundled with specific O365 subscriptions.
Chris Webb does a good job of breaking down the various SKU’s here. He has more patience for deciphering this sort of thing than I do, so go read what he wrote
No one at MS has confirmed ANY of my speculation about the hows and whys of this decision. This is all just me piecing things together from the outside.
That said, I am VERY confident in this diagnosis. I just know this particular machine – both the SQL and Office halves – very well.
Make Your Voice Heard!
Lastly, I also think that this decision is so clearly “off strategy” that I hold out hope that they reconsider.
If you think that pulling PowerPivot and Power View from retail SKUs of Office 2013 was a bad idea, leave me a comment and let me know, because Microsoft will see it too. We’ll treat it like a petition.