Microsoft Excel for Chromebook

Microsoft Excel

excel-160pxExcel is still the gold standard for ad-hoc analysis up to anything that needs a database. It’s also hugely popular for holding lists of anything.

Google Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets is, no surprise, an online spreadsheet. It can read and save to .xls and .xlsx files, but complex analyses and anything with VBA won’t work out well. Those more complex functions just don’t exist in Spreadsheets yet. Simpler files, up to and including Pivot Tables, work great. The big advantage of Spreadsheets is that multiple people can edit one file at the same time, which is super useful for compiling data in a team, or ensuring there’s only one copy of the file (no more merging changes). There are a few neat touching for pulling live data in, like live currency conversion data, that Excel isn’t so great at.

Google Sheets
Google Sheets

Office web apps

If you’re used to the look and feel of Excel, and you don’t need the more hardcore analysis tools, Microsoft provide a version of Excel for the web. It’s in beta, but it works pretty well. Just head to My Office on, sign in with your Microsoft account and get rolling. While it’s easy to create new documents and export them, to open existing documents you’ll need to upload it to Microsoft’s Skydrive and open it from there.

Excel on the web
Excel on the web


rollApp runs LibreOffice and OpenOffice on the web, so you can use them on your Chromebook. Opening Excel files in LibreOffice Calc is easy – you can connect to your Dropbox or Google Drive and open them like regular files. You also have access to some more complex features that you might be used to from Excel. The downsides are that, similar to Google Spreadsheets, it doesn’t interpret files perfectly, particularly for more complex documents. It’s also not hugely stable yet, being still in beta, and free accounts are limited to three documents at a time, and an automatic shutdown after 10 minutes idle.


If you’re one of the lucky few with a Chromebook Pixel, you have QuickOffice installed which can read (but not edit) Word documents. We should get editing enabled in the next few months, and a rollout to other Chromebook devices from there.


If you absolutely must have a full version of Excel, you can try Nivio – it’s a web service that lets you run a remote Windows instance. It’s a paid service starting at $50 per month if you want access to Office (it’s Office 2010).

Nivio for Chromebook
Nivio for Chromebook

5 thoughts on “Microsoft Excel for Chromebook”

  1. I just test drove a chromebook and it also had issues with password protected spreadsheets. The interface was nice and I think I may go ahead and get one hoping that Google and the suite of chromebook titles and tools eventually catch up to full function or near to full function.

    1. I’ve heard Google Spreadsheets called “multiplayer Excel” – once you’ve used it in a team with lots of people working on something at the same time, it’s tough to go back. You’re right that there are some features it doesn’t have yet, but I feel like what it does have works much better on the web.

  2. Hello and thanks for the infos!

    I’m considering chromebook as my primary computer for my work.
    I’m an internet marketing professional using, almost absolutely, Google products like:
    GMail, GDrive, Analytics, AdWords, Hangouts and so on.
    I need to be simultaneously logged in to more than 1 google accounts.

    Given the fact that i cannot be simultaneously logged in to 2 gmail accounts in the same browser, i currently open two different Chrome browser versions on my PC, in order to, lets say, view GDocs shared with different Gmail accounts of mine.

    Q1. Is it possible to be simultaneously logged in to more than 1 google accounts in chromebooks?

    Q2. How will chromebooks perform with the following tabs opened:
    – 3 GMail tabs with 5 opened chat sessions
    – 7 Google docs tabs of which:
    — 2 documents with more than 20 pages of text each and one half-page image per page
    — 3 spreadsheets one of which has more than 20 sheets and lets say that i want to sort data on a sheet with 25 columns and 4500 rows.
    — 2 presentations with more than 20 slides, full of images and animations
    – 3 AdWords tabs
    – 3 Analytics tabs
    – 1 youtube tab
    – and 10 tabs with other web apps like salesforce, mailchimp, CMS interfaces, google searches and opened websites.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Thanasis!

      – You can log in to multiple accounts simultaneously in the same browser (I am right now). You can also have one logged in, the other in incognito mode.
      – Assuming this is all open at the same time – that’s a lot of tabs 🙂 would recommend checking out one of the Haswell units – i.e. an Acer C720 or HP Chromebook 14. These devices should be able to handle your scenario better than any others in the same price range.

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