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Can Google Kill PowerPoint? 257

theodp writes "Far from a PowerPoint killer, Slate's Paul Boutin finds Google's online presentation tool Preso more like a PowerPoint commercial — a half-baked app that shows how powerful Microsoft's program really is. But if you have your druthers, Boutin suggests ditching both and opting for Apple's Keynote, which helped snag an Oscar for Al Gore and inspired this Dear-PPT-Letter. 'The first hurdle ... You can't use it on a plane. Google Preso only works if you've got a live, high-bandwidth Internet connection. You can save the finished product to an HTML presentation on your laptop, but you can't edit the saved version or upload it back. The Splunkers would need to finalize their presos early in the morning in a rented conference room, where both Wi-Fi and Verizon wireless cards have been known to fail. That would kill the presentation.'"
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Can Google Kill PowerPoint?

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  • Oh yeah (Score:5, Funny)

    by 427_ci_505 ( 1009677 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:36PM (#21190467)
    Google is going to "fucking kill powerpoint."
    • Re:Oh yeah (Score:5, Interesting)

      by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @07:57PM (#21191243) Homepage Journal
      I wouldn't say that, but, when people need to be able to collaborate on and share a presentation, this is a fairly cheap way.
      Wish is was available around a year ago. Had to do a group presentation for a class, divided it, and got all of the project members on Gmail so we could work on it as a Google document.
      The real challenge was American laziness. Punks wouldn't work on it until their backs were against the wall, at which time the old MS Office reflexes kicked in, and we used PowerPuke.
      You can lead the horse to the water, but it had better be a fire-hydrant-delivered enema if it's hydration you're after.
      • Re:Oh yeah (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Instine ( 963303 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @04:07AM (#21194049)
        Bingo. Its collaborative, cost effective, and a back to basics. If you want to make something slick for TV/film or a crowd that appreciate unnecessary fluff, fine use PowerPuke. If you want to collaborate on, make and deliver an effective presentation to others (I'm sure 99% of presentations are not made on a plane but back at the office) then it is fast and easy and no nonsense. I love it. I hate the completely pointless features in PowerPoint and similar, enticing you to spend hours on a shaded backgrounds, faded transitions and border combinations. Like I say, unless it needs to be visually slick for a TV audience, that time is wasted time.
    • Then after they're:
      "...going to fucking bury Microsoft, they've done it before and they'll do it again!"
  • by VidEdit ( 703021 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:41PM (#21190523)
    Doing an important presentation that is 100% reliant on perfect internet connectivity is currently a stupid, stupid idea. It might work ok for presentations on your home turf in company meeting rooms but for remote presentations, training and sales it is a totally not yet ready for prime time idea. Someday perhaps, but not today. There are enough things that can go wrong with a presentation without using an on line app.

    • by iron-kurton ( 891451 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @07:34PM (#21191009)

      It's not just stupid to rely on an internet connection, but also to use BETA versions for anything serious - I can attest to that. After forgetting my DVI converter for my MBP, and borrowing my professor's windows laptop to do a presentation, IE barfed on it, and I had egg on my face during the presentation. Words were cut off, text boxes jumbled, some slides didn't even show. He didn't have FF.

      A fellow colleague offered me her (earlier version) MacBook, but it didn't work in Safari at all. All I got was a blank screen. She didn't have FF either.

      It is a stupid idea to use BETA versions for something even remotely serious. I've learned my lessons: never rely on an internet conncetion, never use BETA software, and never assume that just because it works in Firefox, it works elsewhere.

    • by TheVoice900 ( 467327 ) <kamil.kamilkisiel@net> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @07:35PM (#21191017)
      That's where the Google Gears technology is supposed to step in and let you bring your content offline. While not yet ready for prime time, I wouldn't be surprised to see it integrated with all the Google Docs applications in the next 6 months.
    • At least read the summary. You can present from a copy stored on your computer.
    • by Y-Crate ( 540566 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @08:38PM (#21191593)

      Doing an important presentation that is 100% reliant on perfect internet connectivity is currently a stupid, stupid idea. It might work ok for presentations on your home turf in company meeting rooms but for remote presentations, training and sales it is a totally not yet ready for prime time idea. Someday perhaps, but not today. There are enough things that can go wrong with a presentation without using an on line app.

      While I know it's all the rage to imagine everything from Office to Photoshop as a web app, I simply don't want to rely on having an internet connection for anything that doesn't inherently require it (browsing the web, using ftp, ssh or email, etc). Widespread access to the internet is not universal access to the internet, and connection quality varies so greatly, that I don't want to have my productivity beholden to the whims of the local network (if there even is one) that I happen to be using, and deal with the fact the processing power of my machine has been rendered irrelevant thanks to someone downloading 500 simultaneous HD hentai torrents.

      Even if everything works 100% of the time, it is still an unnecessary layer of vulnerability, and not just from a security perspective, but from a "I can never know for sure that the experience will be the same each time I run the app."

      On my machine, I know a crap app will run poorly each and every time, and that a well-done app will most likely perform as it should each and every time.

      Anytime, anywhere access with predictable performance is something that no online app developer can offer, and I'm not going to move to any of their products because of that.
      • It's even worse since everyone seems to be copying a second rate product in the first place.

        Powerpoint is the wrong way to do presentations that are in any way more complex than a slide show. Want to skip back? Hit the back arrow twice or remember the slide number and punch it into the keyboard. Even with dual monitors you don't get much more than the ability to see what's ahead of behind.

        Proper presentation software would give you a proper click able control screen where you can click back and forth.

        I find it somewhat sad that the best way to view power point presentations is actually via Software designed to run a church service [ezworship.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        "I can never know for sure that the experience will be the same each time I run the app."

        So what do you do if the power goes out? Your laptop runs on batteries; does the projector?

        What do you do if your laptop's hard drive dies? Or your RAM slowly starts to go bad?

        Hell, what if your video card does this thing my old ATI started to do -- as it overheats, slowly start having a random checkerboard effect in various onscreen elements?

        You even seem to admit this yourself:

        On my machine, I know ... that a wel

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by SerpentMage ( 13390 )
          > So what do you do if the power goes out? Your laptop runs on batteries; does the projector?

          The liklihood of power going completely out such that a projector cannot be powered are quite a bit less than an Internet going dead. Or worse just slow. Ever tried giving a presentation when the network requires say 10 secs to load a slide? That's dead time.

          >What do you do if your laptop's hard drive dies? Or your RAM slowly starts to go bad?

          Been there done that, have a backup pen USB device. And if that dies
    • There are some things like incorrect PowerPoint versions, forgotten files, mysteriously appearing pornography [news.com.au], corrupt PowerPoint files, PowerPoint unavailable, etc, that would actually be better if there was a piece of online presentation software.

      Online applications are in their infancy, but it's definitely a worthwhile area to be exploring. I think it'll take a change in JavaScript or some kind of better online scripting platform before it becomes a serious contender, and that'll always be stifled whi
  • by BrerBear ( 8338 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:41PM (#21190531)
    Wasn't Google getting ready to use its Google Gears [google.com] plugin to allow offline access to its apps? That includes features like offline storage and resource loading and works cross-platform.

    It doesn't sound like this would be a barrier for much longer.
    • by waferhead ( 557795 ) <waferhead@ya h o o .com> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:49PM (#21190609)
      Perhaps an online presentation app is for those PHBs not bright enough to be able to download and install Openoffice? (Impress)

      It's not Powerpoint.
      OTOH, it's not Powerpoint, and doesn't rely on web access, and is probably 95% compatible with Powerpoint, likely 100% for the most commonly used features.

      I have assembled bit of existing PP presentations into one in OO.org with only minor issues.
      (Being able to simply dump the whole thing to a PDF for the dead tree version is a nice feature as well)

      I have also FIXED borked PP presentations that had crashed powerpoint every time.
      • by AvitarX ( 172628 ) <me@brandywinehun ... org minus distro> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @07:34PM (#21191003) Journal
        Does OO.org print the slide as it appears?

        I know with PP I need to save as .jpeg and drop into another program and print lowres versions of the slides (last known incident was with 2000, so PP apologists need not be rude, just tell me it was fixed). Otherwise I would get lame or no background.

        if OO.org prints the final slide as it appears I could actually have a major use for it even though we pay for Office. If I still had some of the troublesome presentations I would jsut test.

        Typos == drunk, forgive me.
        • Issue wasn't fixed cause it was never a problem. You can just print the index pages or print low-res full slides. It's worked this way since 97 and has improved through 2007 which now can save to PDF or XPS.
      • by jstomel ( 985001 )
        I've had a lot of problems with impress. Writer and Calc are great, but Impress is really suitable only for basic presentations. Animations are difficult and buggy. Multimedia and applet support are almost nonexistent. And don't get me started on compatibility issues, especially between NeoOffice and powerpoint. Whenever I had to export my presentation to a ppt and use Office on another computer (often), I had to spend half and hour fixing formating errors before my presentations. Same thing opening fi
    • Downloading and installing a plug-in ahead of time is a surprisingly heavy burden for users, so for now there's still a significant barrier. A lot of what Google Gears provides really ought to be standardized and built into the browser imho.

      WHATWG's HTML5 working draft includes a specification for a client-side SQL database [whatwg.org]. Webkit's feature branch already has it implemented [webkit.org], and it works a lot like the local-storage part of Google Gears.

      I'm hoping that once that bit of HTML5 gets finalized and built into
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:42PM (#21190545)

    Does anyone else think all presentation software should be banned, on the basis of services to humanity?

    • Slideshows can support effective presentation styles well
    • Most slideshows don't do this
    • Instead they're full of bullets
      • and sub-bullets
      • which don't really add anything
      • and are hard to read while listening to the speaker
      • and often just say the same anyway
    • Instead, we could just go back to explaining things orally
    • Slideshows should be reserved for useful supporting graphics
    • That doesn't mean random clip-art! :-) :-/ }:-)
    • In fact, almost everything promoted and supported by presentation software like Powerpoint is widely acknowledged by communications trainers as a bad thing

    Conclusions: we should just abandon the concept, and save zillions of hours of wasted office time every year.

    (But it won't happen, because it would expose managers who suck.)

    • by SpeedyDX ( 1014595 ) <speedyphoenix@NoSpam.gmail.com> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:46PM (#21190577)
      That's not so much a critique of presentation software so much as a critique of how people USE it.

      Whoever sets up the presentations for Steve Jobs, for example, tends to do a pretty good job for his keynotes.

      I personally use presentation software not to present information to others, but as "cue cards" for myself.

      Presentation software has its uses, although I would agree with you that most of the time, it's used very, very poorly.
      • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:58PM (#21190695)

        That's not so much a critique of presentation software so much as a critique of how people USE it.

        You're right of course, and my post was meant to be humorous rather than entirely literal.

        However, presentation software is like word processors, only worse: it's one of those things where businesses expect everyone to be able to use it effectively, yet never provide any training. As a consequence, those businesses get information being poorly presented and therefore lose time due to inefficiency. Good presentation style is like good graphic design and typography: the audience doesn't even notice it, they just take in the content efficiently and come away with the intended impression.

        Steve Jobs is, as you noted, an excellent presenter. Most corporate people aren't, as you can tell by the number of insanely overcomplicated diagrams, extensive bullet points, clip art "jokes", and transition effects they manage to cram into what should have been a simple, concise presentation.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Hollinger ( 16202 )

          Good presentation style is like good graphic design and typography: the audience doesn't even notice it, they just take in the content efficiently and come away with the intended impression.

          This is the very reason why I've got a couple of books from Edward Tufte [edwardtufte.com] on my shelf in my office. Beautiful Evidence, for example, is not only a very good book (sometimes a smidge dry), but is also quite pretty to flip through as a coffee table book.

          I do a lot of presentations (and enjoy it actually!), and really try to

      • by znu ( 31198 ) <znu.public@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @07:13PM (#21190843)

        Whoever sets up the presentations for Steve Jobs, for example, tends to do a pretty good job for his keynotes


        This article [blogs.com] comparing the presentation styles of Jobs and Gates is quite relevant here. (And quite entertaining.)

        Most people treat their slides as a sort of scratch pad. They don't figure out what information they're going to present, then figure out what they have to say and what should go on the slides. They figure out what they're going to say by writing it on the slides. Then they go in and read the slides.

        Doing really first-rate presentations is hard. The vast majority of business types who are expected to give presentations don't remotely have the graphics design or (more importantly) information design skills to do it well. Even when you have first-rate people doing it, it takes quite a lot of time. Supposedly a Steve Job keynote takes weeks to prepare, and there's probably an entire team involved.
      • That's not so much a critique of presentation software so much as a critique of how people USE it. Whoever sets up the presentations for Steve Jobs, for example, tends to do a pretty good job for his keynotes. I personally use presentation software not to present information to others, but as "cue cards" for myself. Presentation software has its uses, although I would agree with you that most of the time, it's used very, very poorly.

        No one has mentioned this yet, so here's a good opportunity to plug D
      • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:55AM (#21193345)
        Personally I don't understand why people don't just use html from any of a few hundred WSYWYG web design programs and just throw in a few dozen BLINK tags or flash if they really want to be as annoying as powerpoint. The final grave for any decent presentation is on a web server anyway.
      • Keynote (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LKM ( 227954 )
        Jobs, of course, doesn't use PowerPoint, but Apple's own Keynote. I've switched from PowerPoint to Keynote a few years ago, and I think my presentations have gotten a lot better. I'm not entirely sure why; I think Keynote kind of encourages you to use large type (thus you have less space for filling up pages with bullet points) and images. It's also fast and easy to create lots of slides without missing what's going on, which further encourages people to create more slides, but put less into each slide, whi
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )
      No no, we should just ban bullets. Rewrite the software so it doesn't support them anymore.

      Uh, best to ban text too, just in case. Or at least text boxes. Maybe leave the non-text box, single line option for labels and things.
    • by xtracto ( 837672 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @07:12PM (#21190833) Journal
      Does anyone else think all presentation software should be banned, on the basis of services to humanity?

      I do not think so. I am doing a PhD in Multi Agent systems and usually make my presentations in Powerpoint with the Texpoint extension to add LaTex code. In my last two presentations I have used OpenOffice.org Impress with tex2png because I now use Linux for everything in my "work".

      However, some of the best presentations I have seen have been done in LaTex using the Beamer class. However when I tried to use it (some time ago) I found it quite complex (even though I write all my papers and am writing my thesis in Latex...).

      Presentations are a tool, as any other tool it can be used wisely or stupidly. That does not make the tool more or less useful.
      • I'm a fledgling beamer user --- I'd be glad to help if I can. It's pretty neat software, especially since I can embed pgf graphics (I'm also trying to learn the pgf package as well). If you're interested, here's a link to my astronomy class presentations. This is the first semester I'm writing them, so they'll probably change as I modify them over the winter holidays. I'm trying to subscribe to the model that they are illustrative, use full sentences, and I spend quite a bit of time talking and writing
    • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @07:16PM (#21190879)
      Seriously, it's not presentations that are the problem, it is a combination of:

      1. Presentation software that offers little more than bullet points and a picture here and there.
      2. Users who have no real training or skill in creating a presentation, but can't find an art department in their company because the manager decided that, with so much presentation software available, why continue paying for people who know how to make a presentation?

      I've seen some really good presentations, created by professionals, that incorporated various visual cues, OLE objects (to render some sort of object in real time), etc. I envision presentations that are somewhat interactive -- for example, embedding a 3D rendering object that allows the use of a mouse to rotate the object and zoom in, so that you can answer questions from the audience and show the 3D model in whatever way is necessary to explain some detail. Or an embedded web page, so that you don't have to stop, pull up a web browser, go to the web page, then switch back to the presentation program, and go back to full screen mode.

      Really, embedded charts are a good start, but don't go far enough. We need to embed objects that can be updated in real time. Sadly, that requires the skill of a professional presentation designer, and like I said, who wants to pay for someone like that when you can just make a bunch of bullets? Seems to be the solution to everything these days: bullets.

    • I like presentations, but I also believe that any more than a handful of words per slide will detract from the content being delivered by the speaker.

      The real problem is that it's simple to make a crap presentation but hard to make a really good one. As with everything greatly simplified (DTP in the early days, Access databases, VB apps) the volume of awfulness created outweighs the volume of goodness.

      (And what's wrong with wasting some time in the office? The idea that every second must be productive leads
      • And what's wrong with wasting some time in the office? The idea that every second must be productive leads directly to burnt-out staff and high turnover, as well as some sort of monitoring regime better suited to prisons or battery hens than trusted workers.

        The thing is, if you've got people who enjoy their work, you needn't have either the burn-out or the prison-like monitoring regime. I can relax and enjoy a good, informative presentation that's relevant to me, and it provides a nice break in the day as well as helping me to do something. On the other hand, spending time in unproductive, poorly presented meetings, is horrendous and does more to sap office morale than just about anything else I can think of.

    • by Oddster ( 628633 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @07:42PM (#21191091)
      I don't consider your post Funny - if I had mod points, I'd rate you as Insightful. I was going to write a post exactly like yours, but you beat me to it. Powerpoint itself is a powerful communications tool in the hands of a skilled presenter. Powerpoint is a dose of sulfur stench which refuses to exit your nostrils even after leaving the auditorium when in the hands of a poor presenter. Unfortunately, far too many people equate "I can create a Powerpoint slideshow" with "I know how to present to a group of people" and "my presentation is ready." Your presentation is not ready when you make that final save to the PPT.

      The best presentations I have seen (and given) have pointedly not been ones which used Powerpoint, but used pure speech, speech plus whiteboard, or speech plus drawing on transparencies on an overhead projector. Powerpoint handicaps both the presenter's and audience's thought flow by conforming to a rigid structure, where the next point of discussion is always predetermined, which is completely counterproductive to the interactive learning and discussion a live presentation seeks to encourage in the first place. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of communication problems Powerpoint introduces.

      Powerpoint is a bit like an F1 car in that particular respect: Give it to somebody who knows what they're doing in the particular (rare) scenario where it is appropriate, and you may see some incredible feats. Under any other circumstances it will lead to a crash and burn just trying to get off the starting line.
    • by DrCode ( 95839 )
      No, I don't think they should be banned. A Powerpoint presentation is the best sleep-aide that I know of.
    • People learn differently

      People learn:
      • Orally
      • Textually
      • By doing

      I for one don't follow lecture style presentations very well, I have to write exactly what is being said and then read it to trully understand what is being said. Having a powerpoint presentation, even if it's the same thing as what is being said, is very useful to me because I can understand at the same rate as those who learn orally.

      On a side not I think that the way that you learn has a lot to do with your job. Learn orally? good people person.

      • You're absolutely right that different people learn in different ways. However, presumably that's also been true of the groups of test subjects in all the research, and everyone still seems to conclude that just reading out your slides sucks compared to presenting either orally or via the slides alone...

    • I did some powerpoint stuff when I was in the army, back when I thought building templates with punched out ellipses and a glass effect was good design.
      I did stuff like having tanks with the quarterly figures on their banners, passing to the sound of Conquest of Paradise, all those cheesy wipes, all to the requests of my commander who took this stuff real serious, he even had me mirror the progress of the presentation on a second computer in case something happend to the first while presenting it.

      I was rele
    • Many presenters make poor use of presentation software. I don't think I would ban the software per se. Also, presentation software is also used for more than just presentations through a projection device. For example, presentation software is very useful for poster presentations, fliers, and great for setting complex figure plates for publication.
    • Your post isn't wordy enough. If you make the font smaller, you can fit in more text.
      Also, could you make the post fold into view on the side of a cube?

      Thanks.
    • Where have you been for the last 20 years? Ever since people started learning how to code HTML (read: Click on widgets in Frontpage), the world has preferred presentation to content. It's like driving a soapbox racer, the presenter is essentially ballast.
    • If you can't write it down effectively, then you certainly can't describe it well. Would you prefer to have to *listen* to an incoherent twit, or skim his slides while tuning him out?

      At least in a presentation, you can glean the point from the slide titles, figures, and maybe some of the content.

      More seriously, slides are /incredibly/ useful in the hands of someone even 1/10th decent. Btw: my CS dept requires a course in public speaking, to help cover this stuff. Value in education :-)

      Slides provide:
    • Yes! More Oral!

      But seriously, it's not the software which is crap, it's the people who use it. In my experience there are very few people who know how to give a presentation. Most just do what you were trying to parody.

      A good presentation has pictures, diagrams, charts, flowcharts, possibly a small number of bullets with minimal wording. These should outline and support the presentation but not contain the entire fsking script!

      Good Presentation Slide

      * Concise
      * Supportive
      * Diagrammatical

  • At this point I think Google would need a stand alone application to kill MS-powerpoint in particular directly. The two fill different niches, desktop-based applications are mor permanent and generally reliable without a connection while online tools allow the creation/distrobution of information quickly without a need to install or buy software. Very useful in an environment that restricts the installation of software that otherwise is useful for a task.
  • Wait what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JensenDied ( 1009293 )
    Since when can't people edit HTML?
    • by FSWKU ( 551325 )

      Since when can't people edit HTML?

      If I'm reading it correctly, they're not talking about having the capability to edit the HTML so much as having the knowledge of how to edit it.

      Remember, we're talking about Power Point users here. If they knew how to edit HTML, they wouldn't be using the software. These are the same people who think Clippy is a useful guide in writing their documents. They are also most assuredly the exact same people who use Front Page to design a website. Doing it the right way for

    • You actually think non-geek business people can manually edit HTML?

      Most of them can barely edit a MS Word document. In any event, the essential functionality of the software is disabled when away from the internet. Which is a bad idea.
    • Since when can't people edit HTML?

      Presentation is the art of persuasion.

      It is not a line of code.

      The salesman doesn't need to know HTML. He needs to know to reach his target audience.

  • Keynote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NickCatal ( 865805 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:47PM (#21190589)
    I have to say, and this is after using Powerpoint many times over, Keynote blows PP out of the water. It has to be one of the best applications for the Mac when it comes to real-world usefulness.

    Google's online apps are crap (except Gmail.) I don't want to have to be tethered to an internet-enabled computer all the time, much less use everything inside of a web browser. Word & Excel are great applications (well, the 'ribbon' thing kinda pisses me off) and have really set the bar for office applications. I've tried OpenOffice, NeoOffice, Pages, Omni, etc, etc, etc and I keep going back to Word and Excel. And I don't want to consider myself a Microsoft (or Apple) fanboy at all.
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )
      Keynote is great. Webapps suck. After that I start to lose you a bit.

      Word and Excel set the bar for word processors and spreadsheets all right, but that's just because they suck less than their competitors. Word is AWFUL as soon as you want to do something the least bit interesting. Stick some graphics in and the thing falls apart. Want to have a footnote on your first page, a double column layout but your title span the full page width? Too bad. You have to use a text box for your title.

      Pages seems
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Vancorps ( 746090 )

        My dynamic database driven Excel sheets mail merging into Word would like to speak with you. Word and Excel are quite excellent and 2007 in particular is very friendly to use. The only problem I've encountered with it is finding where things moved to because I was already familiar with previous versions. People I've introduced it to that had no realistic prior experience found 2007 to be open and very simple despite it's extremely powerful feature set.

        This same database driven Excel sheet can feed into a

        • Re:Keynote (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @08:33PM (#21191569)
          The individual apps are powerful, no question. They've got a lot of gotchas though. In the case of Powerpoint vs. Keynote, lack of features is a GOOD thing. In the case of some of the other apps it's not, as much, which is why unfortunately I can't use Pages full time.

          Office is definitely powerful, but it lacks polish. For example, I'm writing a paper and I want to make a figure that consists of four graphs. Okay, text box, stick in figures, no problem. But now I want to label them, A, B, C, D. Grab the text tool... oh, can't put text in a text box like that. You used to be able to put it in a frame, but MS decided we don't need frames anymore. Okay, I don't want my figure labels to go wandering off whenever I edit my paper, so I'll take everything out to a layout program like Omini Graffle and make the figure as one big image there. Done. Copy, paste... what? Word decides my figure should be resampled to about 20 DPI. That's not going to work. Save to a file and then insert? Nope, same thing. The only solution I could find was to save a several hundred DPI version then let Word downsample it to a reasonable level. Yuck.

          I'm sure Office is just great for doing things that you absolutely can't do any other way. But for the day to day, common tasks? It always turns into a fight for some reason.
      • Word is AWFUL as soon as you want to do something the least bit interesting. Stick some graphics in and the thing falls apart.
        Don't you get it? This is why PowerPoint "seems" so awesome, because it does stuff that Word can't!
    • Google's online apps are crap (except Gmail.)
      maps.google.com is great.
      • I stand corrected

        I was applying it to google's word/excel/powerpoint competitors
        I do like Google Calendar, although I only use it for my own personal calendars and I have Outlook 2007 and iCal subscribed to it.
    • by kklein ( 900361 )

      Could you explain how and why it blows PPT out of the water? I'm really asking. I have had a lot of people say that to me, but when I tried it, it seemed pokey and unintuitive. What's so great about Keynote? Hell, what's so bad about PPT? It does what it is supposed to and you never have a hard time finding it installed somewhere...

      • Re:Keynote (Score:4, Interesting)

        by toQDuj ( 806112 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @02:47AM (#21193801) Homepage Journal
        Yessss. I can help you there, I think :). After giving quite a few presentations in powerpoint, I switched to keynote, because:
            - It handles video much better. I use POV-Ray movies to illustrate the technique I'm using. Powerpoint just can't display it without hiccups.
            - It has a smooth transition called "dissolve" which fades in and out the items and slides in your presentation. I find that this is the least obnoxious of all effects, and doesn't quite "shock" the audience like the effect of having a slide suddenly appear (i.e. when having no transition).
            - It has sane templates, with a sensible colour scheme (i.e. no more than a few different colours, don't make it look like a circus).
            - It gives me a useful "presenters display" in which I see on my laptop screen the slide as it will look like when I click, the current slide, the presentation time and my notes. This prevents me from having to see what's on the slide by turning my back to the audience.
            - Animations in slides are handled much better, I can have much more of them in a slide than in Powerpoint. Editing the sequence is also quite a bit simpler. Thus, I can have a bulleted list of keywords on the left, and an appropriate supporting picture or graph appear on the right of the slide.
            - It supports true transparent images, and vector graphics. I can copy, paste and scale anything from a suitable PDF for example.

        But most of all, it allows you to quickly make slides a la Steve Jobs. I can advise this to anyone: aim for having your slide contain no more than one word, one image, one movie or one graph on a suitably unobnoxious background. Let bulleted lists appear one item at a time, and talk about only the item that is highlighted (the one that appeared last). And remember: the slides are not there for you. They are for the audience.

        B.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LKM ( 227954 )
        In addition to the other points: Keynote (and the keynote templates) encourages you to use images, large type, little text on each slide, and many slides. PPT encourages you to use bullet points. Lots and lots of bullet points.

        People who use Keynote often end up with tons of slides with few things on them. People using PPT often end up with few slides with tons of stuff on them.
  • Oh, please... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:49PM (#21190611)
    "a half-baked app that shows how powerful Microsoft's program really is.

    The main issue w/PPT, in all seriousness, is how it teaches users to haplessly mangle modern communication, ignoring brevity, sowing wordiness, giving birth to new definitions of redundancy...nearing the point of celebrating mediocrity, just because it can.

    PPT makes it soooo easy to generate content - a good thing? Not when 18 slides would do and the user gleefully churns out 32 more. "Can I borrow that ppt template you used to draft a brief for the stockholders..? I have to write up the company picnic announcement..."

    MS has never introduced that concept into PPT authoring, and again, such mindless encouragement is the main issue tossed around when you hear moans from a crowd forced to sit thru all the unnecessary verbiage they knew was coming when the presenter said "Ok, let's take a quick look at the powerpoint I brought along...".
  • by Bryansix ( 761547 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:51PM (#21190623) Homepage
    Nobody should use Powerpoint in the first place unless the presentation is tried and true, and the visual stimulus actually adds value to the presentation. I had so many professors in College who sucked at teaching and the fact that they used Powerpoint just made it worse. It was usually just long winded quotes straight out of the text in a font too small to read on the screen. You would have to go over the powerpoint before class or print it out just to be able to read it thus totally defeating the medium.

    The Point is that people shouldn't be using Powerpoint or anything like it unless they have the time beforehand to make it something usefull.
  • "Paul Boutin finds Google's online presentation tool Preso more like a PowerPoint commercial [CC] -- a half-baked app"

    You mean... one of google's beta applications feels... like it should still be in beta! That's astounding. If you think google isn't going to fix retardedly obvious things like "you can't work on documents without an active broadband connection" then you need to see a doctor about your apple fanboy-itis.

    Once again... google's month-old beta application doesn't "kill" a commercial product th
  • Summary (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nova Express ( 100383 ) <lawrencepersonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:52PM (#21190641) Homepage Journal
    Powerpoint

    Strengths

    • Standard
    • Multiplatform
    • Powerful
    Weaknesses
    • Microsoft=Evil
    • Somewhat Expensive
    Preso

    Strengths

    • Free
    • Works OK
    • Google=Good
    Weaknesses

    • Sucks
    • Only Online
    • No Animation ,li>No Image Tools
    • Can't Bet Company On It
    Keynote

    Strengths

    • Better than PowerPoint
    • Lickable
    • Apple=Good
    • Finer Control
    • Create LOL Cats in Record Time
    Weaknesses

    • None. That Shalt Not Question the One and Holy Jobs

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )
      "No Animation ,li>No Image Tools"

      That's a strength, IMHO
    • That's news to me... Where's the Impress comparison?
    • Re:Summary (Score:5, Funny)

      by GaryPatterson ( 852699 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @07:29PM (#21190973)
      Keynote ... Create LOL Cats in Record Time

      And on reflective black glass surfaces! Ooh!

      They're in ur presentation, eating ur clipartz!

      I think I need a shower now. (shudder)
    • I'm having a hard time filtering through the sarcasm, but it is pretty hard to dispute that, not only is Keynote WAY better than PowerPoint, but it kicks PowerPoint's ass in nearly every category. Funny how Apple easily one-ups Microsoft at every turn. Even with a 15 year head start, Microsoft PowerPoint is still a p.o.s compared to Keynote. And how can you say PowerPoint is "powerful"? It's only "powerful" because it let's you do things that you SHOULD be able to do with pretty much any software, but c
  • by ip_freely_2000 ( 577249 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @07:04PM (#21190755)
    I couldn't tell you the number of times I've been in conference rooms, hotel kitchens, bathrooms, behind the wall of a tradeshow booth making edits to a deck.

    I'd LOVE some .ppt competition ( Keynote for Windows, pretty please ), but needing the web to edit a deck would not work in my universe.
  • meh (Score:2, Interesting)

    I've been using keynote since I had to present my masters thesis and I've never looked at powerpoint again. Powerpoint is no where near keynote when it comes to ease of making slides, features, less cluttered look that lets you do your work. powerpoint does have it's advantage at being pretty much ubiquitous. But, I've fund keynotes import-export feature quite adequate. Oh and you can export slides to pdf, flash or quicktime as well.
  • by rmcd ( 53236 ) * on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @07:10PM (#21190815)
    This was a review for someone who doesn't read slashdot. There wasn't one subtle point. It's well known that google docs require being online and it's also well-known that google is working to change this. Anyone who has spent five minutes examining the capabilities of any of the Google apps knows they fall far short of Microsoft's software. The "power-point killer" designation strikes me as idiotic for a 1.0 version of a new class of software (browser-based presentation creation).

    Moreover, suitability is all about what you're presenting. Suppose the reviewer had asked a mathematician to do a comparison of these three presentation packages on the one hand with LaTeX/PDF on the other, for the purposes of giving a mathematical talk. I can tell you from experience that Powerpoint is a joke for this purpose. (I'm not a mathematician but I do include a lot of equations in my slides. LaTeX/PDF rocks.)

    Just a few months ago I watched a colleague give a powerpoint presentation and stare in horror at his projected slides because, without realizing it, he had rendered them totally unreadable by using his tablet PC to add last-minute graphics to them (supposedly using the tablet feature as it was intended). You can screw up with Powerpoint too.

    This is the very beginning. The interesting thing to speculate about is what the office suite arena will look like three years from now. I'm betting that Google will, at the very least, shake things up a *lot*.
  • PowerPoint is friggin' annoying. You have to learn it in school nowadays even. The so-called business world should really get over PowerPoint! I don't think seeing an ametuerish slide-show would make me want to go with someone's proposal.
    • That's why serious companies have design branches who get paid a lot of money to make professional slideshows, and not the amateur one's you mention.
  • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @07:50PM (#21191161)
    After being bombarded for the past decade with seemingly endless presentations, I'm certain that overall it has brought down the quality of presentations and discussions.

    The first obvious problem is if people think they need lots of 'features' in presentation software (i.e. effects), they are 100% doomed to make a useless piece of trash. The core of the presentation if it must be done should be simple and clean, not Myspace-style crap. Some font selection and subtle bacgrounds can assist, but any intra-slide animations (text sliding in or appearing bullet-point-by-bullet-point) are killer and inter-slide animations if used generally are horrible, long, and cheesy. I could see some subtle, hypothetical sub 200 ms transitions being less jarring than simple screen replacement, but I never see such things happen.

    A more critical flaw is people begin intrinsically worrying about the presentation file itself rather than being more broadly prepared. It's a fixation that leads them to the path of more or less parroting the slides, perhaps with some emphasis.

    Further taxing things, is I've started to see presentation files used as the medium of choice for more general transaction. I get information files and product summaries as a powerpoint file too often. It's the worst of all worlds. On the one hand, the medium is targetted at large-font display, so content is limited, and thus they omit important information to fit the format. On the other hand, they truly cannot trim enough information, and as such end up with unpresentable crowded pages despite trimming useful information. Additionally, breaks between slides always are awkward. It's just bad.

    Not to mention the effect it has on the nature of discourse. Without a presentation for the general audience, the discourse can be bidirectional and free-flowing. The presenter may have private notes that can be consulted at will, but it doesn't constrict the nature of the discourse. With a presentation, by and large people feel obligated to follow the flow dictated by the big screen, rather than engaging in more constructive methods.

  • My favorite presentation software was Aldus/Adobe Persuasion. Easy to use, flexible, never got in the way, and I was always able to get what I wanted out of it.

    Powerpoint still isn't as good, and Persuasion was killed off 10 years ago.

    Please, Adobe, bring it back, OK?

    jh
  • PowerPoint has been dead to me for years.

    Impress serves my needs fully. It also has the added benefit of not requiring an internet connection.

    Sorry Google, I love ya, but I think your office products are underpowered and a bit ill conceived. GMail excluded.

  • and whatever it is that might be stopping you will you away faster than you can say Firefox 3.0
  • I really don't see any web-based application beating stand alone programs. Number 1, although high speed internet is common, some places only have Dial-Up lines and AT&T and other cell brands Wi-Fi cards are expensive and harder to get working then a stand alone connection on OSes other then Windows. Number 2, its harder to find Open Source/Buyable web programs, for example, if a company wanted to use Google's product, they would have to 1. Trust Google's website not to be cracked 2. Trust that the serv
  • by r_jensen11 ( 598210 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:12PM (#21192241)
    You may not remember this, but back in the days before wides-spread computer projectors, professors actually used overhead projectors. They treat powerpoint the same way that they treat overhead slides. In fact, some professors *still* use overhead projectors. Even more surprising, some professors even use, get this, BOTH powerpoint AND overhead projectors! It's not the tool that's inherently bad, it's how the tool is used.

    A chainsaw, wielded by the wrong person, can destroy a house. Wielded by the right person, it can create a sculpture made of ice.
    • A chainsaw, wielded by the wrong person, can destroy a house. Wielded by the right person, it can create a sculpture made of ice.

      Or... cut down a tree ... maybe? Why don't we just stick to car metaphors, they sound cooler even when used incorrectly. Its like using a small block Chevy to tow a Church!
  • For those whoever worked with Lotus Freelance Graphics, it is still a better product then PPT. You could create your own templates, your own layouts, adjust colors easily on the fly. Everything you ever wanted in PPT but just much more flexible. That said, PPT rules the world. Unfortunately its not very good a delivering powerful multi-dimensional information.

    For a good article on PowerPoint and its lack of information density, check out Edward Tufte's discussions on the subject http://www.edwardtufte.com/ [edwardtufte.com].
  • viva la hypercard.

    Presentation software powerful enough that several games (including the original myst) used it as their engine. *that's* what I want to use for presentations. Way niftier than anything currently on the market.
  • by m2943 ( 1140797 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @11:44PM (#21192965)
    First of all, you can already download presentations so that you can show them off-line. With Google Gears, I expect you will be able to work on them off-line ("on a plane") as well in the future. And it's just the first version; give it 6-12 months, and you'll probably be able to draw and animate as well.
  • by salesgeek ( 263995 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @03:36AM (#21193955) Homepage
    The only thing that can kill PowerPoint is real speaking skill. Unfortunately, being a good enough presenter that you can succeed without visual aids is beyond the reach for most of us. Not to mention, most of us really don't have anything that interesting to talk about.

  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @04:43AM (#21194187) Homepage Journal
    Really, presentation software is a scourge, so what does it really matter which one is better?

    The problem is the usual MS phenomenon - you make something apparently easy, so everyone does it, and everyone does it horribly.

    Business letters used to be a lot better in both quality and looks when they were done by secretaries. Today, too many CEOs write them themselves, ignoring that a) their time is too expensive for that and b) they aren't the CEO because they are good at writing letters.

    Some problem with most windos servers and networks - they're owned and broken because you can be hired as a "windos admin" with zero real-life experience at age 20. And many corporate networks are run by people you wouldn't trust to drive a bus.

    And again, same problem with Powerpoint. Because it's so "easy", people who have no clue about how to build a good presentation are doing so. And, not surprisingly, what they build sucks. I've seen business/sales presentations done by high honchos that I would've hit any of my people over the head for.

    So for 99% of the people who use powerpoint, it really doesn't matter. No matter what tool you give them, they'll create crappy presentations with it.

    And the other 1% don't use powerpoint anyways.

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