I’ve first started working on PowerPoint in 1990 as a development intern on PowerPoint 2.0. I returned as a full time developer (PowerPoint 3.0, 4.0, ’95), development lead (PowerPoint ’97), and Group Program Manager (PowerPoint 2000, XP, 2003, and now PowerPoint 12). That’s a lot of PowerPoint!
It’s been quite a ride, but this release is definitely the crowning achievement. There are more improvements packed in PowerPoint 12 than we’ve ever added in a single version and it’s tremendously exciting to see it all come together. Here’s a little history of the thought process that led to some of the big advancements in PowerPoint 12:
At the beginning of the release I was reflecting on the graphic and authoring capabilities of PowerPoint over the years. I took a look at what a user was likely to create by just booting up the application and inserting some content. Back in PowerPoint 4.0 (circa 1994), a quick slide with text and a graph and one of the popular built-in templates applied would result in this:
That was over 10 years ago, and pretty good stuff at the time. I tried the same thing in PowerPoint 2003. Here’s what I got:
Ouch! Not much different, and certainly behind the times given all the advances in graphic technology over the years.
This investigation led to a big pitch for graphic improvement across the applications, and ultimately one of our core focus areas in Office 12 became “21st Century Documents”. Many teams took this focus to heart, and we have improvements in graphics, charting, diagramming, text, tables, equations, and more. In addition, the new user interface helps users quickly access all this rich new functionality. We also built a styles model that allows Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to all support rich themes and easily transform basic documents into professional quality output.
I repeated the exercise above in PowerPoint 12 Beta 1. In less than 1 minute I created this slide in PowerPoint:
I can’t stress how easy this is: Just create a blank slide, type the title, and choose a graphic style for the title from a gallery in the ribbon. Insert a chart (which uses full-blown Excel now), and modify the default data slightly. Then I just picked one of the new default themes (which are now also available in Word and Excel). That’s it!
In this single example, you see graphic effects on text (in the title). That’s a real PowerPoint title (not a static “WordArt”), with spell checking and everything. You also can see some of the new 3D capabilities in the chart and on the text (lots more of this to come in future posts). There’s a new font (Candara), a subtle glow effect on the title, and true transparency in the chart gridlines. And this isn’t meant to show all the new capabilities in PowerPoint 12, but we’ll get to them eventually.
Just to show using themes is truly easy and impactful, I picked a different theme from the gallery:
You can see how much is formatted automatically: colors, backgrounds, fonts (including fonts in the chart), effects on the title and chart bars. It really is trivial to make great looking presentations.
Of course, this new level of graphic capability spans all content in PowerPoint: shapes, text, graphs, diagrams, and tables. Plus, you can have fine control over all aspects of these objects if you want. Ultimately we'll explore how corporations or organizations can design their own themes and get matching and high-quality content.
This is just the beginning. In upcoming posts I will cover tons of improvements that show up in PowerPoint including (in no particular order):
There’s much more (as I’m sure people on the team will start reminding me immediately). We’ll get to it all over time – probably in the order that readers show the most interest. Stay tuned!