When I was at the Microsoft Data Insights Summit last week I took the opportunity to catch up with Howie Dickerman to get an update on how the bug fixing with Power Pivot for Excel is coming along. I talked about this in my original blog here and then my previous update here. And the good news is the work is going very well. The summary of what Howie told me is as follows:
- There have been more than 200 bugs fixed to date particularly those that occur from the Edit Measures dialog. This is exactly where most of the crashes I see occur so that is good news.
- All known errors in the editing dialog are believed to be now fixed. You can never say never of course, but this is the current view
- All known bugs where Excel seems to hang while waiting for Power Pivot (or vice versa) seem to be fixed.
- Definitely not everything is fixed, but it is a lot better.
- You need to get a version of Excel 2016 O365 that has a build date of April 2017 or greater to get the fixes (more on that below)
- Work on the MSI version (non- O365) will start “soon”. But please don’t hold your breath on this – these things take time.
Howie really cares about this stuff and he asked me to keep him updated on what people find as they deploy the newer releases of the product, so I would love you to comment below on your experiences AFTER you have installed a >= April 2017 version.
How to get the Updates Faster
- Get Excel 2016 Office 365
- Switch to Current Channel if you are on the Deferred channel (like me).
Current, Deferred, What?!
OK, I admit I had never heard for the Current Channel or the Deferred Channel. Each customer has a choice as to how often their software is updated and also how quickly the updates are deployed. As you could probably guess, the Deferred Channel gets the slowest updates and fixes and also is updated less frequently. This Channel is designed for conservative IT departments and/or for companies that need absolute stability in their environment for whatever reason. On the other hand the Current Channel pushes out fixes pretty frequently (as often as monthly on occasion) so you get the latest fixes as soon as it makes sense for Microsoft to deploy. There is also a Fast Track channel where you can get bleeding edge updates, but you should use that with care! This channel is generally not advisable if you have any responsibility to deliver reliable material in full on time – things can and will go wrong. This channel is really designed for people that want to test new features etc.
I have my own o365 tenant and I am the Administrator (read I don’t have to ask anyone in IT for permission to do what I want 🙂 ). I was actually surprised to find out that I am on the Deferred Channel for updates. I certainly didn’t ask for this so my assumption is that this must be the default (not sure). Anyway, it is not hard to switch from the Deferred Channel to the Current Channel. Read about that further down the page.
Which Channel Am I On?
You can check which Channel you are on by going into File\Account. You can see below that I am on the Deferred Channel
The version 1609 shown above means the code was written before Sept 2016 (eg YYMM is the deployed year/month)
How to Change Channel
I just downloaded and installed the “easy fix” option at this link here. https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/3185078/how-to-switch-from-deferred-channel-to-current-channel-for-the-office-365-suite and ran the software. This successfully changed the Chanel for me for my entire deployed copy of MS Office. After I deployed the new version I immediately saw lots of changes to Excel and also Outlook. Mainly smallish cosmetic changes, but noticeable all the same. Nothing really relevant to this article though.
After installing the fix, I saw that I was on the current channel and the version is 1705 (meaning it contains code developed up until April 2017).
What About Me?
I hear you say “what about ….”? If this is you
- Excel 2010
- Excel 2013
- Any Excel that is not O365
- Deferred Channel O365 where you have no control (eg IT says “too bad”).
If that is you, then the bad news is it will take longer for the fixes to flow to you. It is not possible to say how much longer unfortunately, but I wouldn’t be holding my breath for anything in the next 3 months. Unfortunately if you want the benefits of subscription based licencing, you have to buy the subscription. And if you (or someone who calls the shots) wants the benefits of a slowly changing environment, then you have to accept that change will come slowly. And if you are running a version of the software that is 3 – 7 years old, then you have to accept that this will come at a cost and you can’t have the latest and the best of everything.
Issues Already Discovered
There are 2 things I have discovered already about the new build.
Auto Add Measure to Pivot Table
It has been a feature of Power Pivot from day 1, that if you have a pivot table selected when you write a measure, that measure automatically gets added to the Pivot Table. I noted immediately that this feature no longer works. I contacted Howie and he tells me that this was turned off deliberately to try to drive some consistency in the process. However since deploying the change there has been significant “feedback” and the team has decided to turn this back on in a future release.
Formulas Not Being Saved
I have heard from Austin Senseman at PowerPivotPro.com that he has experienced problems when adding a new measure in the formula dialog but the formula can’t be saved. He has to copy the formula, close the dialog, then open the dialog and paste the formula.
Leave Your Bug Experiences Below
Please leave your comments below of your experiences after you upgrade to an April 2017 build. I would love to hear the good and bad, and I will definitely pass your comments on to Howie – he wants to know so the team can make the product better.
This is the last post in a series of articles. You can read the others in this series from the following links.