In a carefully-orchestrated and finely-tuned 60 minutes, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Corporate VP Kirk Koenigsbauer took the cover off of the upcoming release of Office. In the demo, PowerPoint got more than its share of time, being used as the example for collaborative slide creation and for tablet-based presenting.

Watch the webcast here.

The demo was, at the same time, immediately pleasing and unsettling. Here are a few quick impressions to support both sentiments, with a full review being promised soon.

You can explore the answers to these questions for yourself by downloading the public beta. Undoubtedly, we will be one of hundreds of blog sites posting results and observations over the coming weeks. And finally, the Presentation Summit in October will showcase the new version of PowerPoint in prominent demos, previews, and hands-on opportunities.




4 Responses

  1. Thanks Rick for the heads up….

    It seems like since PowerPoint’s early days, it’s been an uphill battle to convince presenters that the art of presenting wasn’t actually a technical skill at all – it was a relational one. PowerPoint enhanced it’s animation capability and we had to fight the battle again. We got more shape options in 2007/10 – but most audiences still couldn’t remember an hour later what the presenter actually had said.

    I guess I see handheld tablet-based presentations in the same light as Prezi users – it’s certainly very compelling on the surface, but only a tiny handful of presenters can actually pull it off well. And whether it’s electronic projectors in 1995 (and the people who spent $10,000 to become more “dynamic” presenters) or tablet users today, it seems we desperately want a Best Buy purchase to solve our personal communication issues, but it rarely does.

    From my knothole in the fence, the world doesn’t need another delivery platform because it looks kind of cool on stage – it needs presenters who actually know how to “deliver” a message and that will always come down to some simple basics of human interaction.

  2. The sad reality is that there is little money to be made by emphasizing the relational aspects of PowerPoint, at least by Microsoft. Bells, whistles and bloat are what sells licenses. Having said that I was impressed with some of the features of PPT 2010, but I think this is just a way to try to get them back into the tablet wars and I think the touchscreen stuff is pure fluff. Then again, what do I know. I didn’t buy Apple at $20 a share.

    1. Good observation, Tom.
      In product marketing, it is all about feature sets, current trends, revenue generation and perceptions of innovation. (The old picks and shovels being sold to miners analogy). I suspect that will always be the case. In my line of work, I have to live in the real world with presenters in very high stakes settings who after a few videotaped coaching interactions, realize that their PowerPoint may be ready to go, but they clearly weren’t. jim

  3. If lecturers / speakers understood what they were trying to communicate and could absract then maybe PowerPoint would not be “evil.”
    The following is what I would suggest is an understanding of what is meant by “abstraction.”
    “In sense perception we discern the external world with its various parts characterized by form of quality, and interrelated by forms which express both separation and connection. These forms of quality are the sensa, such as shades of blue and tones of sound. The forms expressing distinction and connection are the spatial and temporal forms. The world , as interpreted by exclusive attention to such forms of sense-perception, I will term “Nature.”
    These forms, qualitative and spatio-temporal, dominate this experience. They are indifferent to emotion, being just themselves, namely, the vivid realization of things capable of abstraction from that instance of actuality with its cargo of emotion. Nature is devoid of impulse.
    Sense-perception is the triumph of abstraction in animal experience. Such abstraction arises from the growth of selective emphasis. It endows human life with three gifts, namely, an approach to accuracy , a sense of the qualitative differentiation of external activities, a neglect of essential connections.
    These three characters of the higher animal experience —namely, approximate accuracy, qualitative assignment, essential omission—together constitute the focus of consciousness, as in human experience.”

    from A.N.Whiehead’s “Modes of Thought.”

    Because of this failuse to abstract “FORCE” is used to try and convey thought. See an elaboration of “FORCE” by Ulysses in Troilus and Cressida by Shakespeare.

    So we have “Death by PowerPoint.”
    “Here now in his triumph when all things falter,
    Stretched out on the spoils which his own hand spread,
    As a god self-slain on his own strange altar,
    Death lies dead.”
    Little wonder we are bored to death and that the speaker has wasted his or her time by their inability to read. (“Read” is the fourth ruminant of a cow’s stomach.)
    Have fun.

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