Of all the sweeping changes that Microsoft have made to Excel 2007 the one that has got people most excited is the hugely increased capacity of the workbook. The Big Grid, as it is known, offers over a million rows per spreadsheet - as opposed to 65,536 in Excel 2003 - and increases the number of columns from 256 to a staggering 16,384. This incredible upgrade provides users with the ability to create almost limitless spreadsheets.

But such enormity of screen space counts for nothing if the other interconnected specifications cannot compete with it. Happily Microsoft have remedied this potential problem by also increasing the limits on a whole range of other features within Excel 2007.

One of the biggest concerns when working with a vastly increased amount of data is whether there will be enough memory for it all to be retained. What is the point in creating sprawling, comprehensive spreadsheets if inadequate memory means you have to replicate the same formulae time and time again? With this in mind the usable memory in Excel 2007 has doubled from 1GB to 2GB meaning that formulas and those all important pivot tables need never be lost to the ether.

Excel's smart recalculation engine is one of the most valued components of the whole program, minimising the response time of calculations by only recalculating cells and formulae that have changed and doing so in the fastest possible sequence. However, in previous versions of Excel this facility was limited by the number of dependent cells in a given area. In Excel 2007 there is no such cell dependency with only lack of usable memory acting as a barrier to smart recalculation. And since the memory has doubled in size that particular limitation should not cause too much concern.

Sorting is a similarly fundamental function in Excel as many professionals are working with complex sets of data that require both constant refining and analysing under varying criteria. With the introduction of the Big Grid the possibilities for ever more multi-layered lists are truly mind boggling which is why Microsoft have increased the number of sorting levels from 3 to 64. This allows for enhanced custom lists and much more sophisticated methods of data organisation.

Many other specifications and facilities have expanded to match up to the Big Grid. The length of drop down lists has grown from 1,000 to 10,000 while maximum formula length has leapt from 1,000 to 8,000. The number of arguments in a function has swelled to 255 and array formulas are now only restricted by available memory.

These greatly increased specifications have shattered the expectations of what Excel can do. Greater capacity brings with it greater sophistication which all professionals would be wise to take advantage of. However much you may think you know about Excel it would be highly beneficial to enrol on a training course which can open your eyes to the wonders of the 2007 program. Only then can you truly make the most of the Big Grid.