Powerpoint 2010 takes it up to Apple’s Keynote – the game of leapfrog is truly on!

I’m currently working on two longish but rather profound blog entries about presenting for specialist audiences, and more on attention-grabbing techniques.

One thing that caught my attention overnight was the next video in the Microsoft Office 2010 (for Windows) series. This one features Powerpoint 2010 and demonstrates three new transitions. You can see the video via Microsoft’s posting of it on YouTube, below. Watch it first then scroll down for my commentary. See you in a moment.

This video is clear demonstration that the Office team have been working hard at overcoming Powerpoint’s visual deficits when it’s compared to Apple’s Keynote. The comparison is obvious, because in the video we see at least one copycat transition, very similar to Keynote’s Mosaic transition.

What’s important to note is that the already existing transitions in Powerpoint 2007 which have found their way into 2010’s version have been significantly improved in terms of smoothness. This suggest quite a lot of under the hood coding improvements, and perhaps a better matching of Powerpoint to improvements in the Windows operating system, especially Windows 7. The descriptions on the opening page of the video of Powerpoint’s beefed up video performance is testament to a team who have become tired of seeing their presentation software kicked around (yes, I admit it, by people like me, and deservedly so), and been given the resources to take Powerpoint to another level. Whether that translates into a vaccine against “Death by Powerpoint” I don’t know, because it could also mean Death by a Thousand Lashes” if endusers slavishly incorporate razzle-dazzle just for the sake of it, rather than be audience-centric, as I advocate.

(This is where Keynote users would chime in and say, “Don’t hold your breath, Les”).

It’s clear to me the Powerpoint team have been keeping a close eye on developments in the Apple world of presenting, and have become adept at not just playing catch-up, but leap-frog. I can only report on what the Powerpoint team makes public in these blog discussions, rather than anything I might learn privately, and we can all expect further teasing YouTube videos from the Powerpoint team in the very near future as Office 2010 has now been seeded to beta evaluators.

What this may mean is that the automatic assignment of beautifully rendered photos and maybe text, and wonderfully smooth and innovation transitions in a presentation does not mean it’s been done in Keynote, as is the case when comparing Keynote 09 with any current form of Powerpoint – Mac or Windows.

That distinct advantage would appear now to be heading to a new status of “once upon a time there were two different ways to present”.

I’m confident the Keynote team will play its role in the leap frog game, but I’m not sure it will be “more of the same, only better.” Now, I have no insider information to share with you, but I have the vaguest of feelings that with Snow Leopard and its new CoreAnimation/Quicktime X components, we may see a new version of Keynote which will not just leap-frog Powerpoint (which is in “catchup”, rather than “leading the way” mode its seems to me) but it will head presentation slideware in a whole new direction.

I think I’ll start preparing a new blog entry: “When Keynote meets Snow Leopard on the new Apple tablet: Presenting hits new heights approaching broadcast quality graphics” or “Powerpoint is to Coyote what Keynote is to Roadrunner”.

Your thoughts?

9 responses to “Powerpoint 2010 takes it up to Apple’s Keynote – the game of leapfrog is truly on!

  1. Pingback: PowerPoint 2010 News « Simply Presentation

  2. But what is PowerPoint 2010 actually like to *use* to create a presentation? What won me over to Keynote was not the transitions but the ease of use (simple things like those yellow lines that tell you when objects are centred or aligned, etc). I’ve seen a lot of output from PPT 2010 but no one actually saying how much they love to use it.

  3. @/britmac: I’m guessing this is a v good question which we will not hear much of an answer for apart from superficial changes to the ribbon etc, which was a complaint for Office 2007. Keynote users def. feel the difference if they have to go back to PPT, but I’m guessing most PPT users unaware of KN’s useability just assume that’s how the game is played. Ignorance is bliss. When I get my hands on the technical preview I’ll put it to the test. But if it’s anything like the current Powerpoints (MAc and Windows) I know how I’ll feel.

  4. @/britmic

    Right on the money. If PPT’10 has no inspector palettes and insists on toolbar bloat and modal dialogues (death by dialogue) then I’m not even going to try it out. The (non-human) interface has always been and still is a four legged beast with a tail.

    Great transitions a good presentation do not make. Les has said as much many times. In the right hands they’re magic in the wrong – they gong. I was a little embarrassed by a couple of Keynote presentations at AGIdeas this year with one guy actually bragging about how much he loved Keynote to use (he was a very nice guy though so I can’t ‘out’ him). One wacky transition after another is IMHO worse than no transitions. Generally speaking.

  5. From your lips to Steve’s ears, Les. Keynote is ready to take the next Great Leap Forward. I’d love to see it add more 3D capabilities (like Boinx PhotoPresenter), and more timeline/music synch power (like Boinx Fotomagico). Aw heck, they should just buy Boinx and fold their apps into iWork and iLife. Quicker and cheaper than doing it from scratch…

  6. Do you think the Powerpoint clone for Open Office will ever catch up? I think it is fairly lousy at this point.

  7. Pingback: 2010 in review | Les Posen's Presentation Magic

  8. “Leapfrog” would imply that somehow Microsoft PPT is getting ahead of Keynote in any form or fashion—I find this hard to swallow. Even in the most current version of PPT, it is still severely more cumbersome and bloated than it’s iWork counterpart. I work with both programs on a daily basis (Mac) and find that the current version of PowerPoint—while scoring high in the bells and whistles department—still is as frustrating and unintuitive to use as it ever has been. Kudos to MS for stepping up their game, but this program is still a pair of dull scissors in a world of razor-sharp Ninja swords.

    • I think I refer to the ppt interface as being a perpetual weak point, yet in other respects, ppt is more feature rich than kn. No that that makes for a better presentation, of course, but I can only imagine what I can do if some of those features would make themselves available in kn11, “soon”.

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