Microsoft Office 2010: First Look at PowerPoint Web App

Microsoft has kicked off the Technical Preview of Office Web Apps. Let's take a look at the Office Web Apps version of Microsoft's PowerPoint presentation software and see how well it stacks up to its more robust Microsoft Office desktop cousin.

After logging into SkyDrive account and accessing My Documents, you start the Office Web Apps PowerPoint application by clicking New and selecting Microsoft PowerPoint presentation.

On the next screen I have to give my presentation a name. Similar to the experience I encountered with the Excel Web App, there is a large thumbnail preview area on the right side of the screen, but because I have yet to create any slides the preview is blank.

After entering a name for the presentation and clicking Create, a few seconds go by and the Office Web Apps PowerPoint application appears in my Web browser. The bottom half-with the left pane displaying a thumbnail index of the slides and the right side occupied primarily by the current slide being worked with and a smaller area at the bottom for notes.

The top portion is another story, though. Overall, the Office Web Apps PowerPoint has the same look and feel as the retail Microsoft Office PowerPoint software installed on my computer, but the features available on the Ribbon in Office Web Apps are very limited compared with the real-deal PowerPoint.

After adding a title and some information in the subtitle box, I am able to work with the text like I would in the normal PowerPoint for the most part. I can change the size, color, and font of the text from the Ribbon interface at the top of the screen. One difference I noted though is that there were far fewer fonts available to me in the Office Web Apps version and they were displayed in uniform text rather than the what-you-see-is-what-you-get view of fonts I am used to in the desktop version of the app.

The lack of a WYSIWYG font list definitely slowed me down because I had to basically choose fonts one at a time to even see what they look like so I could decide whether or not to use them. Once I got my fonts worked out I clicked on New Slide in the Ribbon bar to move on.

New Slide displays a window with the available slide formats to choose from. This is similar to the experience of adding a new slide in the desktop version of PowerPoint. I chose the slide format that has two content elements so I could add a photo on one side with some text on the other.

The content windows on the new slide have icons to click on to allow you to choose between adding an image or photo, or adding a SmartArt element. You can also click at the top of the element where it says 'Click to add text' if you want to...well, click to add text.

Adding an image or photo is as straight forward as adding an image or photo in any other program. Clicking that icon brings up a window to browse the hard drive and find the image you want to use. If you click on the icon to add SmartArt, a window pops up displaying the various SmartArt elements so you can choose which one to use.

The presentation of the SmartArt options is not as slick as what I am used to in my Microsoft Office version of PowerPoint, but the options and functionality seem to be on par.

The Office Web Apps PowerPoint does not have the ability to apply design templates. It can't do slide transitions or animations. And, it lacks the ability to insert Tables, multimedia elements, symbols, and more. My Microsoft Office PowerPoint Ribbon is loaded with options that are absent from the Office Web Apps version.

For creating basic PowerPoint presentations, or making minor changes and modifications to existing presentation slide decks, the Office Web Apps PowerPoint seems more than capable. More advanced PowerPoint users may still use it for minor modifications, but will still want to keep their 'real' PowerPoint as well.

Want to see more of the Microsoft Office Web Apps? Take a closer look at the Excel Web App.

Tony Bradley is an information security and unified communications expert with more than a decade of enterprise IT experience. He tweets as @PCSecurityNews and provides tips, advice and reviews on information security and unified communications technologies on his site at tonybradley.com.

This story, "Microsoft Office 2010: First Look at PowerPoint Web App" was originally published by PCWorld.

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