Excel 2007 bug messes up calculations

Posted by Mark Raby

Redmond (WA) - A recently unearthed glitch in Microsoft's newest version of Excel sometimes shows the wrong answer for a specific kind of equation.

The peculiar bug showed up on message boards this week.  Users showed that cell formulas resulting in the number 65,535 would show a result of 100,000 instead.  In other words, if a user types the formula "=77.1*850", the answer will appear as 100,000.

Microsoft has confirmed the glitch in an official blog post.  The company says, however, that it is only a display error and not a problem in the software's actual calculation of equations.  "The key here is that the issue is actually not in the calculation itself (the result of the calculation stored in Excel’s memory is correct), but only in the result that is shown in the sheet," said Microsoft's David Gainer.  "I.e. if A1 contains '=850*77.1', and A2 contains '=A1*2', A2 will return the correct answer of 131,070."

It is kind of unusual to see a glitch in such a recent Office product that deals with the software code itself and has no kind of security threat to it.  Microsoft says it has found a fix to the issue, which it is currently testing.

When the fix is complete, the software giant says it will put the patch up on a download site, which is expected to happen "very soon".