Understanding XLS Vs. XLSX: 7 Major Differences (With Comparison Chart)

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XLS stands for Excel spreadsheet. XLS is a file extension for a spreadsheet file format created by Microsoft for use with Microsoft Excel. Microsoft Excel files use a proprietary format for storing Microsoft Excel documents. This file format is known as the Binary Interchange File Format (BIFF).

XLSX is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet developed by Microsoft for Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS. It features calculation, graphing tools, pivot tables and a macro programming language known as Visual Basic for Applications.

In this article, get to understand more details about the XLSX and XLS Microsoft files, their capability, and other related details.

The Difference

Version

XLSX is the latest version of Microsoft Excel while XLS is the older version of Microsoft Excel.

Main Difference

XLS is the default file format for the 2003 version of Excel and older while XLSX is the file format for versions since 2007.

Storage of Information

In both XLSX and XLS information is stored differently. XLS is based on BIFF (Binary Interchange File Format) and as such, information is directly stored to a binary format. On the contrary, XLSX is based on the Office Open XML format, a file format that was derived from XML. The information in an XLSX file is stored in a text file that uses XML to define all its parameters.

Speed Performance

XLS version of the file faster than XLSX version especially on files that requires the use of complex formula for a large set of data.

Readability

XLS is readable by all Microsoft Excel versions while XLSX is only readable by Microsoft Excel versions 2007 and onwards.

Capability

XLS is capable of holding the spreadsheets either containing Macros or not while XLSX is not capable to support Macros.

Based on

XLS is a proprietary binary format while XLSX is based on office open XML format.

Also Read: Difference Between Rows And Columns In Excel

Understanding The Difference Between XLS  And XLSX In Tabular Form

Basis of Comparison XLS XLSX
Version XLS is the older version of Microsoft Excel. XLSX  is the latest version of Microsoft  Excel
Main Difference XLS is the default file format for the 2003 version of Excel XLSX is the file format for versions since 2007.  
Storage of Information XLS is based on BIFF (Binary Interchange File Format) and as such, information is directly stored to a binary format. XLSX is based on the Office Open XML format, a file format that was derived from XML. The information in an XLSX file is stored in a text file that uses XML to define all its parameters.  
Speed performance XLS version of the file is faster especially on files that require the use of complex formula for a large set of data.   XLSX version of the file is slower especially on files that require use of complex formula for a large set of data.
Readability XLS is readable by all Microsoft Excel versions.  XLSX is only readable by Microsoft Excel versions 2007 and onwards.  
Capability XLS is capable of holding the spreadsheets either containing Macros or not. XLSX is not capable to support Macros.  
Based On XLS is a proprietary binary format. XLSX is based on office open XML format.  

Summary

What is the main difference between XLS and XLSX versions of Microsoft Excel?

XLSX and XLS files are Microsoft Excel spreadsheets commonly used to store financial data and to create mathematical models. These files store data in worksheets that contain cells arranged as a grid of rows and columns. Excel spreadsheets may also contain charts, mathematical functions and various kinds of cell formatting. Spreadsheets are often used in business contexts to store financial data and to perfom mathematical computations.

The main difference between XLS and XLSX is that XLS files use a proprietary binary format whereas, XLSX use a newer file format known as Open XML. Another difference is that the XLS extension is used by Microsoft Excel 2003 and earlier whereas the XLSX extension is used by Microsoft Excel 2007 and later.

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