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What's a 'Deprecated' Function in Excel?

Microsoft tells us that many worksheet functions are 'deprecated.' So what does that mean, exactly?


by Charley Kyd, MBA
Microsoft Excel MVP, 2005-2014
The Father of Spreadsheet Dashboard Reports

Wikipedia tells us that deprecation is a status applied to a computer software feature, characteristic, or practice indicating it should be avoided, typically because of being superseded. 

Each new generation of Excel seems to deprecate additional worksheet functions. For example, Microsoft's help topic for the FTEST function tells us:

IMPORTANT   This function has been replaced with one or more new functions that may provide improved accuracy and whose names better reflect their usage. Although this function is still available for backward compatibility, you should consider using the new functions from now on, because this function may not be available in future versions of Excel.

In Excel 2010 and above, as you type a function name, Excel lists the functions that match and provides a short description. Deplicated functions are shown last in the list, with a yellow triangle, as shown here:

Obvious Questions

When you see that a worksheet function has been deprecated, at least two questions probably will occur to you:

Question 1: What's the risk of using a deprecated function?

Officially, the risk is that the next time you upgrade to a new version of Excel, Excel will no longer recognize the function.

However, on a practical basis, that risk seems small. My count shows that Excel has deprecated 38 functions used in Excel 2003. But by Excel 2013, only one of them has been dropped: the JIS function.

But there are no guarantees, of course. Your favorite deprecated function could disappear in the next generation of Excel.

Question 2: What function replaces the deprecated function?

As far as I've been able to discover, the following table shows all the deprecated functions for Excel 2013, along with their replacements. Because some functions have two replacements, you'll see several deprecated functions listed twice.

Question 3: What types of functions tend to be deprecated?

The last time I checked, ALL deprecated functions were statistical functions. So it's reasonable to assume that most deprecated functions in the future also will be statistical.

Deprecated
("Compatibility")
Excel Functions
Replacement
Function(s)
Purpose of Replacement Function
BETADIST BETA.DIST Returns the beta cumulative distribution function
BETAINV BETA.INV Returns the inverse of the cumulative distribution function for a specified beta distribution
BINOMDIST BINOM.DIST Returns the individual term binomial distribution probability
CHIDIST CHISQ.DIST Returns the cumulative beta probability density function
CHIDIST CHISQ.DIST.RT Returns the one-tailed probability of the chi-squared distribution
CHIINV CHISQ.INV Returns the cumulative beta probability density function
CHIINV CHISQ.INV.RT Returns the inverse of the one-tailed probability of the chi-squared distribution
CHITEST CHISQ.TEST Returns the test for independence
CONFIDENCE CONFIDENCE.NORM Returns the confidence interval for a population mean
CONFIDENCE CONFIDENCE.T Returns the confidence interval for a population mean, using a Student's t distribution
COVAR COVARIANCE.P Returns covariance, the average of the products of paired deviations
COVAR COVARIANCE.S Returns the sample covariance, the average of the products deviations for each data point pair in two data sets
CRITBINOM BINOM.INV Returns the smallest value for which the cumulative binomial distribution is less than or equal to a criterion value
EXPONDIST EXPON.DIST Returns the exponential distribution
FDIST F.DIST Returns the F probability distribution
FDIST F.DIST.RT Returns the F probability distribution
FINV F.INV Returns the inverse of the F probability distribution
FINV F.INV.RT Returns the inverse of the F probability distribution
FTEST F.TEST Returns the result of an F-test
GAMMADIST GAMMA.DIST Returns the gamma distribution
GAMMAINV GAMMA.INV Returns the inverse of the gamma cumulative distribution
HYPGEOMDIST HYPGEOM.DIST Returns the hypergeometric distribution
LOGINV LOGNORM.INV Returns the inverse of the lognormal cumulative distribution
LOGNORMDIST LOGNORM.DIST Returns the cumulative lognormal distribution
MODE MODE.MULT Returns a vertical array of the most frequently occurring, or repetitive values in an array or range of data
MODE MODE.SNGL Returns the most common value in a data set
NEGBINOMDIST NEGBINOM.DIST Returns the negative binomial distribution
NORMDIST NORM.DIST Returns the normal cumulative distribution
NORMINV NORM.INV Returns the inverse of the normal cumulative distribution
NORMSDIST NORM.S.DIST Returns the standard normal cumulative distribution
NORMSINV NORM.S.INV Returns the inverse of the standard normal cumulative distribution
PERCENTILE PERCENTILE.EXC Returns the k-th percentile of values in a range, where k is in the range 0..1, exclusive
PERCENTILE PERCENTILE.INC Returns the k-th percentile of values in a range
PERCENTRANK PERCENTRANK.EXC Returns the rank of a value in a data set as a percentage (0..1, exclusive) of the data set
PERCENTRANK PERCENTRANK.INC Returns the percentage rank of a value in a data set
POISSON POISSON.DIST Returns the Poisson distribution
QUARTILE QUARTILE.EXC Returns the quartile of the data set, based on percentile values from 0..1, exclusive
QUARTILE QUARTILE.INC Returns the quartile of a data set
RANK RANK.AVG Returns the rank of a number in a list of numbers
RANK RANK.EQ Returns the rank of a number in a list of numbers
STDEV STDEV.S Estimates standard deviation based on a sample
STDEVP STDEV.P Calculates standard deviation based on the entire population
TDIST T.DIST.2T Returns the Percentage Points (probability) for the Student t-distribution
TDIST T.DIST.RT Returns the Student's t-distribution
TINV T.INV.2T Returns the inverse of the Student's t-distribution
TINV T.INV Returns the t-value of the Student's t-distribution as a function of the probability and the degrees of freedom
TTEST T.TEST Returns the probability associated with a Student's t-test
VAR VAR.S Estimates variance based on a sample
VARP VAR.P Calculates variance based on the entire population
WEIBULL WEIBULL.DIST Returns the Weibull distribution
ZTEST Z.TEST Returns the one-tailed probability-value of a z-test

 

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