Microsoft Excel is a commercial spreadsheet application written and distributed by Microsoft for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. Pre-2007 versions of Excel use XLS as the primary format for saving files. It features calculation, graphing tools, pivot tables, and a macro programming language called Visual Basic for Applications. It has been a very widely applied spreadsheet for these platforms, especially since version 5 in 1993, and it has almost completely replaced Lotus 1-2-3 as the industry standard for spreadsheets. Excel forms part of Microsoft Office. The current versions are 2010 for Microsoft Windows and 2011 for Mac OS X.
Microsoft Excel up until 2007 version used a proprietary binary file format called Binary Interchange File Format (BIFF) as its primary format. Used as the basis for XLS files it is a persistence format that supports authoring and manipulating content in workbooks and workbook templates. Most versions of Microsoft Excel can read CSV, DBF, SYLK, DIF, and other legacy formats.
The .txt file extension is one of the most ubiquitous file types. The file generally consists of plain text only and contains no formatting. Almost any application that can handle text can open a .txt file. As a result this format remains popular due to its support across all platforms and Operating Systems. The file type is one of the oldest file types in existence with its origins tracing back to the first computers.
A .txt file normally uses a basic character set which contains letters, numbers and symbols. A typical example of this would be the ASCII character set. The main alternative to ASCII is Unicode. Unicode is a rival format for text files. A plain text file should only contain several non-printable charaters such as new lines, tab and form feed.