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PowerPoint 2013 Preview

Microsoft recently released the consumer preview of Microsoft Office 2013. The preview is available free of charge at http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/en [1].

This is part three of a series of articles describing some of the changes and new features in Office 2013.

Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 includes the traditional ribbon style interface of the 2007/2010 versions of PowerPoint, with some exciting improvements – especially when it comes to how you save and share documents. Check out the article on Word 2013 [2] to see some of the existing save and sharing features in Office 2013. In this review, I’ll focus on what’s special in PowerPoint 2013.

The default screen when you open PowerPoint 2013 is the new template window which lets you search both local and online templates to create new presentations. If you select an online template it will automatically download and open for you. This window also shows recent documents you’ve opened for quick access to them. This new starting location is really great for the novice users and for someone looking for a quick starting point to create a presentation.

Microsoft chose not to make any radical changes with PowerPoint 2013 but to make existing features either easier to use or more helpful. One big change is the eyedropper tool which lets you pick colors from any text or image on the screen. This is a huge time saver if you’re trying to make colors consistent from text to pictures without having to memorize RBG values.

Another big change comes in the default slide size, which is set to fit 16:9 displays like HD monitors and modern projectors. From a quick poll of friends who work in offices this is a welcome change, as many presentations are now being viewed either on desktop computers with widescreens or on HD televisions mounted in conference rooms.

One enhancement that looks particularly nice has to do with the way comments are handled on presentations. Replacing the primitive method is a new comment system which allows viewers of the presentation to post comments, reply to existing comments and contact or chat with commentators about the ideas or suggestions they have. Team collaboration on projects – especially for team members who may not be at a physical meeting when the presentation is viewed – will find this feature amazingly helpful.

Many smaller updates were also made to the way picture embedding is handled, including the ability to directly import photos from Facebook, flickr.com, office.com and other services. You could already import pictures in previous versions of PowerPoint, but this takes out the step of having to save the file to a local drive before inserting it.

Is PowerPoint worth the upgrade? If you make regular presentations then I would say definitely. Any time saved making a presentation lets you have more time to make the content of the presentation better. If you’re looking for a revolutionary new PowerPoint, however, this isn’t the program for you. PP 2013 can best be summarized as an improved PowerPoint 2010 with cloud services added.

Keep an eye out for the fourth in this series of articles on Office 2013 where I discuss Outlook 2013.