It's still not an excel file but an HTML table sent with an Excel
mime-type. This is just asking for trouble if the user does not use
Excel, as it's exploiting behaviour that looks very particular to Excel
and not ALL spreadsheet software.

This is true, it is exploiting behavior that is particular to Excel. I
was able to do this with Open Office too, even though I didn't fully
bake the code for that.

The article is pretty old and there are other tools that would probably
work a lot better, but the OP asked about Excel and coloring.

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