"Pretty on the outside, same on the inside since 97."3.0 starson
Summary: The programmers at microsoft have really been slacking off the last few years. Since excel 97, there have been no significant improvements to the excel backbone. The only improvements from 97 to 2000 to 2002 are mostly cosmetic. You can color in your tabs, and there are some more nifty talking paperclips and stars to bug you while you are working, and the clipboard and autosave has been touched up. The toolbar and menus now look the same as all the other MS Office apps. However, look at the deep down features that engineers, accountants, statisticians, etc. use have NOT CHANGED AT ALL since the 97 version. All statistical analysis tools are still only included as an "add on" pack, and have not been touched in 5 years. No new formulas have been added (although a new feature gives you hints on the syntax as you type in a formula). Pivot tables and filters work the same as in 97. Solver and other utilities are STILL the same add-ins used in excel 97. In my opinion, you are better off getting excel 97 an waiting for Microsoft to get its act together in the next version of XL, which might happen sometime around 2017. Meanwhile, browse over to corel.com and give the online trial of Quattro Pro 10 a spin. Cnet might refuse to review it and insult it in their review of excel, but I think I can give excel a run for it's money. All the sae features, and much better integration. It never will be able to compete with excel because too many corporations have already been hooked into MS office, and the compatability issues will be hell to wade through. Whatever you do, just stay away from lotus 123 at any cost.