Microsoft Excel Finally Worth It for Apple Users

Microsoft Excel for Mac -- for business? Potentially, yes.

As much as Microsoft ( MSFT) and Apple ( AAPL) hate to admit it, there is one place the bitter rivals openly cooperate: business process software. Microsoft's Office lineup of Word, PowerPoint and Excel running on Macs is probably the oldest and, by some measures, most successful software brand for both companies. Excel hit its 25-year anniversary in September. And with Apple's fortunes on the rise, the entire Office for Mac group has gained cache inside Redmond. To wit, the group just released its latest upgrade, Office 2011, which packs faster performance, new features and a long-overdue trip to the woodshed for Entourage, Office for Mac's ridiculous e-mail client. Microsoft Outlook, the standard communications platform for business, now works for Macs and PCs.

I got an in-depth demo from Excel for Mac product manager Gavin Shearer, and I have been testing a final version for several weeks, focusing on Excel as a quant tool on the Mac.

Here's what the bean counter in you needs to know:

This is a legit version of Excel that really works on the Mac.

No matter what Google's ( GOOG) Spreadsheets, Apple's Numbers or Sun's OpenOffice claims, without question Microsoft Excel is still the king of spreadsheets. It is fast, unbelievably flexible and the backbone of just about any successful business I am aware off. Problem was, running Excel on the Mac was a royal pain. Spreadsheets often would not export properly, charts and formulas would go south and for some nutty reason performance was flat. Basically, if you needed Excel, you needed a PC.

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