Using presentation software can significantly help a speaker, lecturer or any type of presenter get information across to an audience, and Microsoft PowerPoint is the one application that does this best. Although it is mainly used in a business context, PowerPoint has been successfully applied in classrooms and small to large scale social or other types of events. The earliest version of this software for the Windows platform was in 1990. It was then called PowerPoint 2.0 and worked on the Windows 3.0 operating system. The latest version is PowerPoint 2007 and together with Word and Excel forms the main document authoring applications in Microsoft Office.
- Drastic change in interface. The first thing that either elicits a negative or positive reaction from users in the latest version of PowerPoint is the regrouping and relocating of the software's commands and functions. Office 2007 versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint have done away with the traditional toolbar menus and now implements the 'ribbon' interface, officially known as Fluent User Interface. This new interface reorganized the old commands and functions in sets of tab menus. The old toolbar was analogous to the way office work was done when it was still mostly based on paper. The new interface on the other hand follows a more 'visual' logic. Beginners may not find anything wrong with this reorganization. In fact it might even benefit them as more functions are now easily accessible with just a few clicks of the mouse. In the former versions, one had to go through drop down menus and small pop-up windows. However old users who are already familiar with the toolbar menu set-up may find themselves lost and will need to re-learn procedures they've already ingrained in their methods.
- Better graphics. Those already familiar with older versions of PowerPoint generally agree that the 2007 version offers better graphics. There are now more dynamic galleries of images available to the user which can put 3D styles on elements on the slide. Compared to its predecessor, PowerPoint 2003, the color themes are more attractive and can apply to other preview galleries.
- Easier editing. Clicking on a picture will pull up the Picture Tools tab on the ribbon interface. This contains all the common formatting and editing commands for images. The same applies for other media objects such as sound, charts, drawing tools, etc. Right-clicking on an object on a slide will display a contextual tab specific for that type of object. For example if the object was text, WordArt and slide animation tools may appear in the contextual tab. This works much like a drop down menu and users can easily scroll through it with the mouse wheel. Live Preview is a new feature implemented in all the document authoring software of Office 2007. This feature enables users to preview the effects of the changes they plan to make before they execute it.
Aside from the new visual styles and dynamic galleries PowerPoint power-users say that there is no big positive change to the 2007 version. Some are even put off by the use of the ribbon interface. But PowerPoint is mostly used as a visual aid and thus better graphics and an easier way of editing them will certainly give users a bigger advantage.