updated 06:05 pm EDT, Sat June 28, 2008
Solver for Excel 2008
Microsoft says it is working on briging Solver functionality to its latest Excel 2008 release, after removing the functionality that was available in its previous Excel 2004 version. Solver enables linear programming within Excel, useful for capacities, minimums and maximums and scheduling loads; it is commonly used in both business and higher education applications. The company said it had to remove the functionality because it relied on Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), which was removed from the latest Office 2008 release. "We definitely hear you, and we're working on it" says the Office for Mac Team Blog in an update on Solver, an Excel add-in users are clamoring for.
The functionlity was featured in Excel 2004 but not available in Excel 2008. The Mac BU says the only solution for Office for Mac 2008 users is to run Excel 2004 and 2008 concurrently, utilizing Excel 2004 for solver-based work.
According to the company, Solver "enables you to do linear programming in Excel, which makes it enormously useful for cracking business problems around scheduling (how many tellers should a bank have on hand to meet demand?), capacity planning (which of our factories should be producing widgets, gizmos, or doohickeys?), or finding the minimum or maximum value for a problem, given certain constraints."
In its blog post, the Mac BU says the Excel team is investigating two lines of research into adding Solver to Excel 2008 and will let users know via the blog when an update is available.