Microsoft Excel's advantages and disadvantages depend on the spreadsheet user's goals. Excel contains an extensive list of spreadsheet functions that can be useful to advanced users and financial analysts. Excel is also available for both Windows and Macintosh computers, which allows data to be shared easily. Competitors such as Apple Numbers offer fewer functions, but have more visually attractive charts and a user-friendly interface that may appeal to general users.
Alternatives to Microsoft Excel include Apple Numbers, which is available for Apple computers, and LibreOffice, which is available for Windows, Apple and Linux operating systems. Google Docs and Zoho Docs also provide web-based spreadsheet programs that compete with Microsoft Excel. Some users may see Excel's higher price as a disadvantage. A license for Microsoft Excel costs $109.99 in 2014, while Apple Numbers is free for Apple users. LibreOffice and Google Docs are also free for users.
Microsoft Excel has advantages for users who regularly work without an Internet connection, but it lacks the sharing features of web-based spreadsheets. The program is installed on the computer, and data is available regardless of Internet connection. By contrast, web-based spreadsheet programs require users to connect to the Internet to access their data. If an Internet connection is readily available, users may prefer web-based spreadsheet programs because they allow documents to be shared more easily.