Microsoft Research working on making Excel easier to use

Microsoft has made a number of improvements to its popular Excel spreadsheet program for its newest version, Excel 2013. However, it can still be something of a pain to use the software for various tasks. One of them is labeling which parts of an Excel document are in different categories

Normally, users would have to manually type in those categories for each entry on the spreadsheet. However, a new project from Microsoft Research is working to automate that kind of task via machine learning. In a newly posted video on the division's YouTube channel, researcher Lucas Bordeaux shows their system at work.

Bordeaux shows a typical Excel expense spreadsheet and then types in a category inside one of the entries, "food". The Excel embedded software created by Microsoft Research then scans through the spreadsheet and figures out which of the other items in the expense report can also be put into the "food" category.

Another example in the video shows how the embedded program can be used to label election results if the spreadsheet doesn't have complete labels for all of the candidates in the election but selecting the entire spreadsheet and then selecting an "auto complete" button which fills in the blanks.

So when will this nifty feature be put into Excel? That's a good question and one which the Microsoft Research article doesn't really answer. Too bad. We would love to have it ready for the next update for Excel 2013.

Source: Microsoft Research on YouTube

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