Microsoft provides a new version of - let's say Excel - every two years or so. Every new version comes with a set of new features as well as bug fixes. I'm aware that it necessary for MS to come up with some new features from a marketing point of view. This question does not point towards the reasons MS does this.

I'm wondering: Is there a point in time when more than 95% percent of all excel users had everything they needed? Is the increasing number of functions in every new version making Joe Average less productive simply because he can't oversee the increasing possibilities?

Certainly somebody else thought about this issue. And maybe came up with a chart of "number of functions" vs. "average productivity", with a set of curves representing certain Excel versions, finally showing the sweet spot?

P.S.: I'm not sure if this question or a something similar is already discussed in political economics, or it so uncommon that it can "only" be seen on xkcd.

  • "Is there a point in time when more than 95% percent of all excel users had everything they needed?" Yes, around 10+ years ago. – Steve Jones Feb 25 '18 at 16:34

I don't really see this as UX, but it's an interesting question.

As far as I can tell the core functionality hasn't changed since it's very first release to Windows as Excel 2.0 in 1987.

Since then things that have changed:

  • (3.0, 1990) Included toolbars, drawing capabilities, outlining, add-in support, 3D charts, and many more new features
  • (4.0, 1992) Introduced auto-fill
  • (5.0, 1993) Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)

So, as a total guess, I would say that effectively Excel was functionally complete to the extent that 95% of the Excel user base uses it by 1993.

That's 25 years ago.

I was litterally using my old copy of Excel and Word 97 for about 15 years, I'm pretty sure it would still work on my current machine. I only switched to Libre Office to make use of Open Source.

They do upgrades because there's always extra things that can be done that users on the fringe would like. Plus you also have to say up to date in UI terms so as to not lose customers to up-and-coming folks like Google Docs.

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  • Thanks for your thoughts. Any idea on which stack exchange site this question would fit best? – d10e Feb 24 '18 at 19:22
  • You could try superuser.com – icc97 Feb 24 '18 at 20:12

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