Computer Standards for Business Majors, School of Management

Excel Standard for Business Majors

For business majors, the USF software standard is Microsoft 365 (sometimes referred to as Office 365) for Windows or Mac.  It contains the latest version of Excel and can be downloaded for free by following the instructions here

Microsoft switched to a “SaaS” (Software as a Service) business model several years ago and the general public now pays an annual fee for continually updated versions instead of buying the software outright, then having to update it every three years.

Earlier versions of Excel (such as Excel 2016) will not work properly so those versions cannot be used. It is recommended that your computer should use the latest version of Windows 10 or later or the latest Mac operating system.

A minimum of 8 GB of RAM is recommended in your machine, 12 or 16 GB is strongly recommended.
Student computer standards »

Business majors should be aware that Windows had approximately 80 percent market share of the global market in 2020.


Because PCs and Macs have different operating systems, some of the commands for Excel and other Office software are different. If you know only one version, you won't necessarily be familiar with certain functions in a different version. Their differences have been minimized in the Excel version that comes with Microsoft 365, but a few still exist. The differences that remain between the systems can be challenging for faculty and students.

Students using a different version of Excel than the instructor, the textbook, or the reader may not be able to follow or imitate what is going on in class. Students cannot easily collaborate on group tasks if an Excel file that one student creates is a different format than the file of their peers. Faculty may not be able to answer simple questions if the student has a different version of Excel.

Therefore, a task force of faculty from the School of Management and the Arts and Sciences Math Department decided the standard for all undergraduate courses teaching on Excel should be the Excel version found on Microsoft 365. They have a superior feature set compared to other versions that also minimizes differences.  These versions are updated continually online.  There will be no more Excel versions named for the year they were first sold.

Information Technology Services


Phone: (415) 422-6668

Online: Contact ITS

ITS assists with obtaining free VMware, free Office 365 and Windows OS through ITS eStore.

ITS assists with how to assess, upgrade, or convert your laptop.

Upgrading to Office 365 and Excel 2019/2021

Most students with Microsoft Windows computers and Microsoft Office already have Excel but may need to upgrade to the latest version. Students who do not have the latest version of Excel may install Office 365 for free (see below). Mac users should be prepared to run VMware so that they can run a Windows operating system. 

Contact ITS for assistance »

Free VMware »

Free Office 365 »

Free Software on ITS eStore »