Solver for Excel add-on returns to Excel 2008

Dan Moren
4 September, 2008
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A popular add-on for helping Excel users creating optimisation models has made its return to Excel 2008.

Solver for Excel had been among the casualties of Microsoft’s decision to drop Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) from Microsoft Office 2008. The add-on was particularly useful for making calculations and creating optimisation schemes that are dependent on the allocation of scarce resources.

However, due to the popularity of Solver, Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit worked together with Frontline Systems, Solver’s original developers, to bring the add-on back to Excel. Microsoft announced plans to revive Solver in June and delivered the finished product last weekend.

Because Excel 2008 lacks VBA support, Frontline has redeveloped Solver using AppleScript. As a result, Solver now runs as a separate application outside of Excel, rather than as an add-on inside of it. According to Frontline, this may affect the program’s performance, making it slower for some calculations, but faster for others.

Models created in Solver for Excel 2004 should work in Solver for Excel 2008, provided they don’t rely on any VBA macros. The application, which weighs in at less than 2MB, is a free download from Frontline System’s Web site and runs on both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs running Mac OS X 10.4.11 or 10.5.4 or later. It also requires Microsoft Excel 12.1.2 or later.

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