If you’re an active user of Microsoft Excel on your Windows PC, you may have noticed that when you scroll halfway through a row and try to leave the cursor there, Excel automatically snaps to the top-left cell instead of leaving the scroll halfway through the cell. This can be a very jarring experience, especially when you’re trying to scroll through a cell with lots of data. Interestingly, this problem is not present in Excel Online. If you have Excel installed locally, try both versions to see the difference in behavior. The good news is that Microsoft is now fixing this behavior and is bringing Smooth Scrolling to Excel on Windows too.
Smooth Scrolling in Excel essentially comprises of enhancing two elements. The first is to enable generally smooth scrolling when using a mouse wheel or scrollbars; Microsoft says that scrolling via a touch pad or a touch screen was smooth already. The second, and arguably more important capability is to scroll halfway through a row or column without Excel automatically snapping to the top-left as soon as you take your hand off your pointing device. Both these enhancements are being brought to Excel on Windows.
Microsoft has noted that while many would assume that this effort would entail modifying just a few lines of code related to scrolling, this was actually a major initiative since Excel calculates scrolling and the intended behavior based on a number of factors. Many UI elements and their resultant behavior on scrolling is also coupled very closely together, which means that it was very difficult to enable Smooth Scrolling. Apart from the fact that scrolling is an essential component of the Excel experience, the complexity in software modification is why the company says that it treated this piece of work with intense care. You can find out all the interesting details regarding the challenges in Microsoft’s blog post here.
In terms of availability, Smooth Scrolling is already in place in Excel for Windows with Beta Channel or Current Channel Preview with Version 2109 (Build 14430.20000) or later. The company plans to roll it out in a staggered manner to all Microsoft 365 customers in the coming months.