Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 review

£100
Price when reviewed

Anyone who’s suffered through a PowerPoint presentation shortly after watching one made in Keynote, the presentation software provided in Apple’s iWork suite, will know just how big the gap used to be. Where Keynote’s slick graphics and effects help push even the driest message, PowerPoint 2007 presentations could easily appear clunky and formulaic. PowerPoint 2010 narrows the style gap hugely.

There are numerous reasons for the improvement, but top of the list is video support. While you could crank video into PowerPoint 2007, it was hardly slick: you had to edit it down to the right size, make sure it was the right format, and even then you had very little control over how the clip appeared other than size.

Things couldn’t be more different now. The number of formats supported by default has improved massively, and once you’ve added your video you have far more control over it. We’re particularly impressed by PowerPoint’s Video Styles (see video below). These can be simple, such as a Polaroid-style frame at a jaunty angle, but we suspect the frame styled to look like an HDTV will gain most popularity – everyone we showed it to was impressed (including Mac owners).

But video is just the headline news; the key behind the new PowerPoint’s success is that it’s so well geared towards helping the inexperienced. Office’s now-familiar Themes remain its strongest weapon. Select from the 40 built-in offerings and you can instantly transform a dull-looking set of slides into something stylish and sophisticated.

Effects are previewed as you mouse over them; just left-click to select. For example, Fly Through makes it seem like the whole slide is careering towards you. And a number of more subtle improvements add to your arsenal. The biggest change to transitions is how smooth they are compared to PowerPoint 2007 – it makes a world of difference to how professional your presentations look. And this new-found performance has allowed Microsoft to be a little braver when it comes to “dynamic” animations of in-slide elements.

The way bullet points “fly” into a slide has been added, for example, with 13 different choices for entry, from a zoom effect to bouncing. You get 13 exit effects too, and 14 for temporarily adding emphasis. Those with more time on their hands can produce their own custom animations for yet more impact.

Details

Software subcategory Office software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes

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