Solver for Microsoft Excel 2008 on Mac

Posted by at 6:17 am on September 2, 2008

Solver, a feature that some users missed when Excel 2008 for Macintosh was first released, is back as a free download from Frontline Systems, the original Solver developers. It’s available right now for download at

“We are incredibly happy that Solver is now available for Excel 2008,” said Gavin Shearer, Program Manager in Microsoft’s Macintosh Business Unit. “Our great working relationship with Frontline Systems made it possible to deliver Solver quickly, efficiently, and with high quality.”

“We’re offering Solver free for Excel 2008 as a way of re-introducing ourselves to Mac users,” said Daniel Fylstra, Frontline Systems’ President. “We developed the very first Solver for Excel on the Mac, but for many years our product focus has been on Windows. With the Mac’s recent resurgence, we felt this was a good way for us to get back onto the Mac platform.”

How Solver Went Away … and Came Back

Solver was dependent on Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) which was removed in Office 2008 for Mac. However, there was a set of Mac users who missed Solver – especially MBA students with Macs who expected to use Solver in management science courses starting this Fall. Through a variety of forums and blogs, they asked ‘What happened to Solver?’

Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit (MacBU) was listening, and contacted Frontline Systems to discuss what it would take to bring Solver back. Solver’s user interface was rewritten in AppleScript. Solver’s number-crunching code in C++, designed to interact with Excel through other APIs, was also re-engineered to talk to Excel via AppleScript. A cooperative effort, with Frontline Systems developing the code and writing help pages, and MacBU providing AppleScript support, testing and localization, yielded a new Solver for Excel 2008 users.

Solver for Excel 2008 supports both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs running OSX 10.4.11 (Tiger) or later and OSX 10.5.4 (Leopard) or later. It includes language support for English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and Swedish. Solver requires Excel 12.1.2 or later; Office 2008 users can obtain 12.1.2 through Microsoft AutoUpdate, or by visiting

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