Microsoft: Excel calculates correctly

Those relying on Microsoft Office Excel 2007 to crunch their numbers can breathe a little easier, as a recently discovered bug in the program does not affect calculations, the spreadsheet's developers revealed.

Last week, an individual on the Microsoft.public.excel newsgroup pointed out that when two numbers in Excel were multiplied they resulted in what appeared to be an incorrect answer.

While GCN reported that this was an error in calculation, according to the developers, it is actually an error in how Excel formats and displays the product of the multiplication.

The problem, as originally described, concerned multiplication of two numbers whose product should have resulted in the answer 65,535. The spreadsheet actually returned the (wrong) answer of 100,000.

Subsequent study by third parties found that some other calculations whose answers resulted in either 65,535 or 65,536 also resulted in the same error.

In fact, the multiplication was correct, but the program formatted the answer in a faulty way, which caused the number to appear as 100,000, the developers wrote.

In the blog, developer David Gainer argued this to be the case by pointing out that if further calculations were done to the cell with the seemingly faulty product, such as multiplying the contents of that cell by two, then the correct answer would be generated. In this case, the answer 131,070 would appear.

As a result, Excel is calculating numbers correctly, even if they do not appear on the printouts correctly.

'It was determined to be a flaw with the display of calculation result numbers 65534.99999999995 to 65535 and 65535.99999999995 to 65536,' wrote a Microsoft spokesperson by e-mail.

'The issue will soon have a fix available via download,' the spokesperson also stated.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.


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