As a Mac owner using Microsoft's Excel, you will be pleased to know that Solver for Excel 2008 is now available for free download. Courtesy of Frontline Systems, but also of the Microsoft Mac Business Unit, the analysis tool for Excel has finally reached the Mac.
“Frontline Systems developed the original Solver for Excel on both Macintosh and Windows,” says the developing company. “For many years, we've offered Solver upgrades for Windows users, that have gotten more and more powerful over time - but we haven't been active on the Mac. We're now applying more development resources to the Macintosh, motivated by the Mac's resurgence in the market and the move to Intel processors. But the catalyst for this move has been Microsoft's Mac Excel team.”
Solver is basically an Excel 2008 for Mac add-in that allows linear programming. Solver's user interface has been rewritten using AppleScript instead of VBA. It also uses AppleScript – rather than the Excel C API – to "talk to" Excel while it's solving. It runs as a separate application outside Excel. If you are wondering why Solver wasn't included with Excel 2008, forcing you to download this additional software package, it is because it employs VBA for its user interface. Microsoft decided that Excel 2008 should not include support for VBA. Solver also relies on the Excel C API while solving, and the C API isn't supported in Excel 2008.
You must have at least Excel 12.1.2 to use Solver. Use “About Excel” from the Excel menu to check your current version. You can get 12.1.2 in three ways:
- use Microsoft AutoUpdate, which runs weekly by default if you've opted in;
- start Excel, and select Check for Updates from the Help menu;
- download 12.1.2 manually (visit www.officeformac.com and click Downloads at the top of the page).
NOTE: If you're starting from 12.1.0, you must install 12.1.1, then install 12.1.2.
Solver is available for free download here.