I may have found my own answer in the archive which showed up in "More Like This" once I posted this question.
This answer says the limit is the width of the layout: 110 inches and that if the columns were smaller, more would fit in the space available.
Is that the general concensus?
The issue might not be the number of columns is limited but the limit could be overall size of the layout. IIRC the layout size in FM in limited to 110 inches deep (and has been that way for some time I believe), I don't remeber if I have ever hit a width constrain on the layout but I do think it also has one.
Could you do something creative with a web viewer displaying your data as an HTML table? Just a random thought . . .
Regarding the Excel export, keep in mind that Save to Excel and Export as Excel can give you different results in which fields are saved to the Excel file. You may want to script an Excel Export that saves the specific fields you need rather than relying on the current layout to manage those fields.