In this increasingly busy and stressful world Microsoft Excel is an invaluable tool for anyone trying to get things done. From collating business figures to planning your social diary, its spreadsheets, charts and slick, professional graphics remove hassle and confusion and can make the most tedious tasks fun and engaging.

And one of the most impressive things about Microsoft Excel 2007 is the sheer amount of work you can do on it. While it is hard to imagine a spreadsheet requiring over a million rows and 16,000 columns, this program caters to just that eventuality and other considerations are also taken into account.

For instance, when sending a file saved on Excel 2007 to a user with an older version of the product a compatibility checker will notify you of the size of the workbook and inform you what will be lost in conversion. To cope with the expanded sheets Excel's memory management has also doubled to 2GB.

But it is not just the vastness of the workbook that strikes you, it is the style. Microsoft are undergoing a dramatic aesthetic overhaul with their Office products, ditching the dull grey toolbars and uninspiring menus. The vibrant, colourful Ribbon that first made such an impact in the new version of Microsoft Word is transplanted to Excel with stunning results. It is also easier to use than the old tabs, with all the basic functions such as alignment and number format falling under the Home tab rather than being spread out elusively amongst half a dozen different tabs.

The style extends to the sheets themselves with colour-coded rows and a variety of text options, although the most exciting new development is undoubtedly SmartArt. The cumbersome, chunky and drab old charts of yore have been given a spectacular makeover and furnished with a number of new features.

There are over a 100 variations on offer in SmartArt and the cleaner, more concise Ribbon toolbar makes it much easier to format, refine and generally control your charts. A particular advantage is the ability to shade whole series of data in one click rather than laboriously creating rules for shading individual ranges one at a time