PowerPoint is one of those tools I'm forced to use because I occasionally need to create presentations, but don't misunderstand: It's a fantastic application, rich and powerful, and the standard for this kind of thing. I'm just not very good at giving presentations. Fortunately, the new version of PowerPoint includes a ton of new features. And who knows? Maybe I'll get better at this as a result.

 

Probably not.

 

Here are some of the new and improved features in PowerPoint 15.

 

Widescreen by default

 

With the industry-wide move to widescreen displays and projectors, PowerPoint 15 finally defaults to 16:9 widescreen-style presentations.

 

widescreen
Finally, PowerPoint provides a widescreen presentation view by default

 

And don't worry if you're stuck on a 4:3 display or projector: You can easily switch to this style too, of course.

 

4by3

 

Features from other Office apps: Inline comments and Excel Charts

 

In Word 15, we see that Microsoft's word processing solution is getting a PowerPoint-like Design tab for quick access to document themes, watermarks, page colors and borders, and other design-related elements. The sharing goes both ways, as it turns out: PowerPoint 15 is likewise picking up Word's inline commenting functionality, so you can add, view, edit, and mark comments from multiple authors, and not just use simple comments as before.

 

Too, PowerPoint also picks up charts from Excel and use them in presentations without changing the formatting in any way. And not just the charts as graphics, but rather the actual charts, complete with controls, other content, and formatting.

 

These are both interesting examples of how these apps are continuing to overlap, functionality-wise.

 

Improvements to existing features

 

In addition to the new features noted above, PowerPoint 15 includes improvements to many existing features as well. For example, an equi-spacing guides feature that helps you line up elements in a slide now works much like any visual designer, helping you easily determine whether the element will appear off-screen.

 

guides

The dual-screen Presenter View has been significantly enhanced and is in fact quite impressive looking. It sports a slide zoom feature that helps you easily zoom in anywhere during a presentation and a new navigation grid for moving directly to an arbitrary slide without the viewers seeing the interim slides.

 

presenter_view

 

Inline media insertion is improved with support for more video formats, and enhanced audio capabilities, including looping audio tracks. An Office.com-based image collection has also been improved in this version with over 100,000 images.

 

Office-wide features

 

PowerPoint of course picks up functionality that is common across the Office 15 apps, including the new Start experience, Touch Mode, Resume Reading (bookmarks), and more.

 

But wait, there's more...

 

Next, I'll look at Outlook 15.