Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 review
Excellent improvements throughout mean this is much more than a minor update
Review Date: 4 Jun 2010
Price when reviewed: £85 (£100 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Ease of Use
Anyone who's suffered through a PowerPoint presentation shortly after watching one made in Keynote, the presentation software provided in Apple's iWork suite, will know just how big the gap used to be. Where Keynote's slick graphics and effects help push even the driest message, PowerPoint 2007 presentations could easily appear clunky and formulaic. PowerPoint 2010 narrows the style gap hugely.
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There are numerous reasons for the improvement, but top of the list is video support. While you could crank video into PowerPoint 2007, it was hardly slick: you had to edit it down to the right size, make sure it was the right format, and even then you had very little control over how the clip appeared other than size.
Things couldn't be more different now. The number of formats supported by default has improved massively, and once you've added your video you have far more control over it. We're particularly impressed by PowerPoint's Video Styles (see video below). These can be simple, such as a Polaroid-style frame at a jaunty angle, but we suspect the frame styled to look like an HDTV will gain most popularity - everyone we showed it to was impressed (including Mac owners).
But video is just the headline news; the key behind the new PowerPoint's success is that it's so well geared towards helping the inexperienced. Office's now-familiar Themes remain its strongest weapon. Select from the 40 built-in offerings and you can instantly transform a dull-looking set of slides into something stylish and sophisticated.
Effects are previewed as you mouse over them; just left-click to select. For example, Fly Through makes it seem like the whole slide is careering towards you. And a number of more subtle improvements add to your arsenal. The biggest change to transitions is how smooth they are compared to PowerPoint 2007 - it makes a world of difference to how professional your presentations look. And this new-found performance has allowed Microsoft to be a little braver when it comes to "dynamic" animations of in-slide elements.
The way bullet points "fly" into a slide has been added, for example, with 13 different choices for entry, from a zoom effect to bouncing. You get 13 exit effects too, and 14 for temporarily adding emphasis. Those with more time on their hands can produce their own custom animations for yet more impact.
As the proud possessor of a netbook running Windows xp home (an with no intention of upgrading until 2014 or whenever xp is finally laid to rest) I am always keen to ask about backwards compatibility, which is not always Microsoft's strongest point. Or will they expect me to upgrade or access presentations over the web? Knowing how uncertain hotel wi-fi access can be, I'm not looking forward to people trying to show presentations using web rather than hard drive or USB access.
Of course, that might mean that they have to make an effort present the material, rather than just read along with the slides... :)=
By ianbyrne on 10 Jun 2010
Support for Windows XP
All the Office applications support Windows XP SP3, so you should be fine.
By TimDanton on 11 Jun 2010
Note that 64-bit Windows XP cannot run Office 2010 at all. Neither the 32-bit nor the 64-bit verison of Office will run on Windows XP 64-bit.
Also on Windows XP 32-bit you MUST HAVE Windows XP Service Pack 3 to run Office 2010. It will not install without it.
By Simon_Jones_RWC on 13 Jun 2010
The Karaoke Software Package...
With a graphics background, I have always found PowerPoint a rather naff product made worse by being pretty simple to use so every idiot did, very badly. I can remember reducing one sales chaps 42 slide presentation down to 6 slides ! One global company I did a contract for, got a new CEO, he immediately banned anyone making PP presentations to him - he was pretty smart !
As to "Karaoke": If you go for a night out with your mates to a Karaoke evening, you know you must be pretty hissed before you try singing "My Way" because you know you can't sing, drunk or sober. The same should apply to people who think they can do PowerPoint presentations, accept it folks, whatever your intention, the end result will be little better than Donkey DoDo !
By Bikey2 on 17 Jun 2010
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