Why you can’t effectively learn Excel 365 using a Video Tutorial
Excel 365 uses the new Software as a Service (SaaS) business model
In the new SaaS world, you don’t buy software any more – you effectively rent it via a subscription. The software then continually improves and changes via automatic online updates. This means that every user is always using the same, latest version of the software. Excel 365 is the SaaS (and most powerful) version of Excel.
Though Office 2019 (containing the non SaaS version of Excel that will never be updated with new features) can still be purchased for a one-time payment it seems unlikely that many purchasers will choose this option due to the many advantages of the SaaS model. It is likely that there will never be another non-SaaS version of Office after Office 2019.
The introduction of dynamic arrays (along with several new dynamic array formulas such as XLOOKUP) in the Excel 365 July 2020 semi-annual update has created a huge divide between Excel 365 and Excel 2019. It is now common to hear Excel 2019 and earlier versions referred to as “Legacy Excel” and Excel 365 as “Excel DA” to signify the new dynamic array features. Unfortunately the new features in Excel 365 are not backward compatible with legacy Excel versions (Excel 2019 and earlier).
Why SaaS software (such as Excel 365) can not be mastered using video tutorials
If you’ve needed help in using a software feature recently, you may have become very frustrated when searching the web for the solution
You’ll often find a YouTube video that was made a few months ago but the screen in the video looks nothing like yours does and the narrator cheerfully tells you to click on menu options that don’t exist anymore. I have done this so many times recently when searching for help with Windows 10, Google Chrome and Android features.
When you use modern SaaS software (such as Office 365 and Windows 10), you must be prepared for things to constantly change from day-to-day as automatic updates are applied. Often a few new buttons will pop up here and there, new features will unexpectedly arrive, and features that used to be there will disappear (or move to another location).
Books and e-Books are the most efficient way to learn Excel 365
It is clearly not useful or efficient for learners to attempt to learn to use frequently updated SaaS software (such as Excel 365) using video tutorials. A video tutorial would not match what the user is seeing on their screen and the instructions would often be impossible to follow. This is one of the few disadvantages of the SaaS revolution.
In the new world of SaaS software (such as Excel 365) the carefully crafted written word has become more relevant and useful as a software teaching medium provided that it is constantly updated. Smart Method Excel 365 books have a new edition (with a new ISBN number) every six months to match the new Excel 365 semi-annual update that Microsoft release in January and July of each year. The books are clearly marked on the front cover to advise which version they should be used with.
Our older Excel 2007, 2010 and 2013 video tutorials have now been retired
We produced the world’s most popular video tutorials for the earlier (pre SaaS) versions of Excel. Each course was based upon a Smart Method book and some have a run time of well over 20 hours.
The Smart Method’s professionally produced video courses each took around six months to script, record, edit and subtitle but that was fine as they had a lifetime of many years.
Excel 2013 was officially retired on April 10th 2018 when it reached the end of Microsoft’s five-year mainstream support life cycle.
Because we passionately believe that new learners should train using the current version of Excel (that now includes OLAP features such as Power Pivot, Power Query and dynamic arrays along with many other game-changing features) we have also retired our old video courses and you can no longer purchase or subscribe to them.
Excel 2016's end of life date is October 2020
It is unlikely that many business users will continue to use Excel 2016 when it reaches the end of its support life cycle in October 2020.
There are now two (very different) versions of Excel in common use
The Excel 2019 perpetual license version is now very different to Excel 365 (the subscription version). As mentioned earlier in this article, it is now common to refer to Excel 2019 as “legacy Excel” due to its inability to use dynamic arrays (a major game-changing feature introduce in the July 2020 Excel 365 semi-annual update). Dynamic arrays provide a simpler, easier and more powerful way to complete many common Excel business tasks.
Business users of Excel use a different update channel to home users
Software that updates very frequently is bad for business productivity. For this reason, business users of Microsoft Office 365 are protected from constant “version shock” and are usually only updated with new features every six months (using the semi-annual enterprise update channel).
Office versions targeted at home users cannot use the semi-annual enterprise update channel and must use the monthly update channel. This means that they may receive feature updates a little earlier than business users (though these features are in an earlier stage of development and are less stable than the mature and thoroughly tested features released to the semi-annual enterprise update channel).
How we support Excel's new SaaS model in our training materials
Software that uses the SaaS model creates new challenges for training and support. Here is The Smart Method’s strategy for supporting our Excel training materials:
Excel 2016 and Excel 2019. We have dedicated Excel 2019 and Excel 2016 books and e-books. These books will not change during the lifetime of these products as they will never be updated by Microsoft with new features.
Excel 365. With the release of Office 2019, Excel 365 is regarded as a separate product (ending the confusion caused by differences between the Excel 2016 perpetual license version and the Excel 2016 for Office 365 subscribers version).
Users of the product previously known as Excel 2016 for Office 365 Subscribers have now simply become Excel 365 subscribers.
We now produce separate learning materials specifically for Excel 365 users that are updated with each semi-annual update. Our Excel 365 books will have a new edition (and a new ISBN number) in January and July each year to coincide with each new Excel 365 semi-annual release.