Filename extension: .xls
Developed by: Microsoft
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The XLS file type is a proprietary binary file format known as Excel Binary File Format. It was the default file format for spreadsheets created in Microsoft Excel up until 2007, when it was succeeded by the Open XML spreadsheet format (XLSX). The XLS format is widely associated with spreadsheet data, inclusive of numbers, text, mathematical formulas, and charts.

History of XLS File Type

The origin of the XLS file dates back to 1987 when Excel 2.0 was released for the Microsoft Windows environment. Over the years, the format has been updated with each new version of Excel, ensuring compatibility with the evolving feature set of the software. Despite its proprietary nature, the widespread adoption of Excel as a spreadsheet tool entrenched the XLS file type as a de facto standard in many professional settings.

How XLS Works

XLS files are designed to store data in a binary format, which means that they encode data in a specific way to be readable only by the software that is designed to process them. Binary formats are generally compact and fast for computers to read and write, but they are not human-readable. This format allows for complex features like macros, pivot tables, and various other powerful Excel functionalities.

Software That Uses XLS

While Microsoft Excel is the primary software that uses the XLS format, other programs like Google Sheets and Apple Numbers can also open and sometimes edit XLS files. However, compatibility might be limited, and certain features or formatting may not be preserved when XLS files are imported into these alternative spreadsheet programs.

Alternatives to XLS

With the development of open standards, alternatives to the XLS file type have emerged. One notable successor is the XLSX format, part of the Office Open XML standard developed by Microsoft. XLSX files are structured as a zip package of XML files, which makes them more transparent and less prone to corruption. Other alternatives include the OpenDocument Spreadsheet (ODS) used by LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice, and the CSV format, which is a simple, widely supported format for representing tabular data without proprietary encoding or formatting.

Supported converters for XLS files

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