Microsoft PowerPoint is a presentation program developed by Microsoft for its Microsoft Office system. Microsoft PowerPoint runs on Microsoft Windows and the Mac OS computer operating systems, although it originally ran under Xenix systems.
It is widely used by business people, educators, students, and trainers and is among the most prevalent forms of persuasion technology. Beginning with Microsoft Office 2003, Microsoft revised branding to emphasize PowerPoint's identity as a component within the Office suite: Microsoft began calling it Microsoft Office PowerPoint instead of merely Microsoft PowerPoint. The current version of Microsoft Office PowerPoint is Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007. As a part of Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office PowerPoint has become the world's most widely used presentation program.
The original Microsoft Office PowerPoint was developed by Bob Gaskins and software developer Dennis Austin as Presenter for Forethought, Inc, which they later renamed PowerPoint.
PowerPoint 1.0 was released in 1987 for the Apple Macintosh. It ran in black and white, generating text-and-graphics pages for overhead transparencies. A new full color version of PowerPoint shipped a year later after the first color Macintosh came to market.
Microsoft Corporation purchased Forethought and its PowerPoint software product for $14 million on July 31, 1987. In 1990 the first Windows versions were produced. Since 1990, PowerPoint has been a standard part of the Microsoft Office suite of applications (except for the Basic Edition).
The 2002 version, part of the Microsoft Office XP Professional suite and also available as a stand-alone product, provided features such as comparing and merging changes in presentations, the ability to define animation paths for individual shapes, pyramid/radial/target and Venn diagrams, multiple slide masters, a "task pane" to view and select text and objects on the clipboard, password protection for presentations, automatic "photo album" generation, and the use of "smart tags" allowing people to quickly select the format of text copied into the presentation.
Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003 did not differ much from the 2002/XP version. It enhanced collaboration between co-workers and featured "Package for CD", which makes it easy to burn presentations with multimedia content and the viewer on CD-ROM for distribution. It also improved support for graphics and multimedia.
The current version, Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007, released in November 2006, brought major changes of the user interface and enhanced graphic capabilities.
In PowerPoint, as in most other presentation software, text, graphics, movies, and other objects are positioned on individual pages or "slides". The "slide" analogy is a reference to the slide projector, a device which has become somewhat obsolete due to the use of PowerPoint and other presentation software. Slides can be printed, or (more often) displayed on-screen and navigated through at the command of the presenter. Slides can also form the basis of webcasts.
PowerPoint provides two types of movements. Entrance, emphasis, and exit of elements on a slide itself are controlled by what PowerPoint calls Custom Animations. Transitions, on the other hand are movements between slides. These can be animated in a variety of ways. The overall design of a presentation can be controlled with a master slide; and the overall structure, extending to the text on each slide, can be edited using a primitive outliner. Presentations can be saved and run in any of the file formats: the default .ppt (presentation), .pps (PowerPoint Show) or .pot (template). In PowerPoint 2007 the XML-based file formats .pptx, .ppsx and .potx have been introduced.
As Microsoft Office files are often sent from one computer user to another, arguably the most important feature of any presentation software—such as Apple's Keynote, or OpenOffice.org Impress—has become the ability to open Microsoft Office PowerPoint files. However, because of PowerPoint's ability to embed content from other applications through OLE, some kinds of presentations become highly tied to the Windows platform, meaning that even PowerPoint on Mac OS X cannot always successfully open its own files originating in the Windows version. This has led to a movement towards open standards, such as PDF and OASIS OpenDocument.
Supporters & critics generally agree that the ease of use of presentation software can save a lot of time for people who otherwise would have used other types of visual aid—hand-drawn or mechanically typeset slides, blackboards or whiteboards, or overhead projections. Ease of use also encourages those who otherwise would not have used visual aids, or would not have given a presentation at all, to make presentations. As PowerPoint's style, animation, and multimedia abilities have become more sophisticated, and as PowerPoint has become generally easier to produce presentations with (even to the point of having an "AutoContent Wizard" suggesting a structure for a presentation—initially started as a joke by the Microsoft engineers but later included as a serious feature in the 1990s), the difference in needs and desires of presenters and audiences has become more noticeable.
One major source of criticism of PowerPoint comes from Yale professor of statistics and graphic design Edward Tufte, who criticizes many emergent properties of the software:
It is used to guide and reassure a presenter, rather than to enlighten the audience; Unhelpfully simplistic tables and charts, resulting from the low resolution of computer displays; The outliner causing ideas to be arranged in an unnecessarily deep hierarchy, itself subverted by the need to restate the hierarchy on each slide; Enforcement of the audience's linear progression through that hierarchy (whereas with handouts, readers could browse and relate items at their leisure); Poor typography and chart layout, from presenters who are poor designers and who use poorly designed templates and default settings; Simplistic thinking, from ideas being squashed into bulleted lists, and stories with beginning, middle, and end being turned into a collection of disparate, loosely disguised points. This may present a kind of image of objectivity and neutrality that people associate with science, technology, and "bullet points". Tufte's criticism of the use of PowerPoint has extended to its use by NASA engineers in the events leading to the Columbia disaster. Tufte's analysis of a representative NASA PowerPoint slide is included in a full page sidebar entitled "Engineering by Viewgraphs" in Volume 1 of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's report.
Versions for the Mac OS include:
- 1987 PowerPoint 1.0 for Mac OS classic
- 1988 PowerPoint 2.0 for Mac OS classic
- 1992 PowerPoint 3.0 for Mac OS classic
- 1994 PowerPoint 4.0 for Mac OS classic
- 1998 PowerPoint 98 (8.0) for Mac OS classic (Office 1998 for mac)
- 2000 PowerPoint 2001 (9.0) for Mac OS X (Office 2001 for mac)
- 2002 PowerPoint v. X (10.0) for Mac OS X (Office:mac v. X)
- 2004 PowerPoint 2004 (11.0) for Mac OS X (Office:mac 2004)
- 2008 PowerPoint 2008 (12.0) for Mac OS X (Office:mac 2008)
Note: There is no PowerPoint 5.0 , 6.0 or 7.0 for Mac. There is no version 5.0 or 6.0 because the Windows 95 version was launched with Word 7. All of the Office 95 products have OLE 2 capacity - moving data automatically from various programs - and PowerPoint 7 shows that it was contemporary with Word 7. There wasn't any version 7.0 made for mac to coincide with neither version 7.0 for windows nor PowerPoint 97.
Versions for Microsoft Windows include:
- 1990 PowerPoint 2.0 for Windows 3.0
- 1992 PowerPoint 3.0 for Windows 3.1
- 1993 PowerPoint 4.0 (Office 4.x)
- 1995 PowerPoint for Windows 95 (version 7.0) — (Office 95)
- 1997 PowerPoint 97 — (Office '97)
- 1999 PowerPoint 2000 (version 9.0) — (Office 2000)
- 2001 PowerPoint 2002 (version 10) — (Office XP)
- 2003 PowerPoint 2003 (version 11) — (Office 2003)
- 2006-2007 PowerPoint 2007 (version 12) — (Office 2007)
Note: There is no PowerPoint versions 5.0 or 6.0, because the Windows 95 version was launched with Word 7.0. All of the Office 95 products have OLE 2 capacity - moving data automatically from various programs - and PowerPoint 7.0 shows that it was contemporary with Word 7.0.