NEW VERSION OF POWERPOINT

There’s a new version of PowerPoint available, the first in four years. You can get it on its own for $200 or as part of the new Office 2007 that sells for $300 to $400 from discounters. Either way, you must have the new Vista operating system to use it.

 

Heaven only knows how many zillion PowerPoint presentations have been created and shown in countless meetings over the past four years. We have PowerPoint 2007been held prisoner in many of these ourselves. Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corp., once remarked that when he banned PowerPoint presentations at his company, productivity went up 20 percent. Of course, Ellison has a long history of sniping at Microsoft, so we needn’t take that shot too seriously.

But there’s no question people do tend to go nuts with PowerPoint, and the new version gives them more reasons to do so. Instead of the usual look-alike templates, slide-by-slide, you can start with a theme that provides a uniform look for all the slides. Once you design the opening slide, you see a ribbon of choices for others that complement the design and color scheme of the first. When you move the cursor over the choices in the ribbon, you see a preview of what the next slide will look like. As before, you can add music, animation and organizational charts.

Now this is probably the best part: You can save the presentation for viewing with any Web browser or hit “publish” to burn it to a CD. In either case, the presentation is put to bed with its own built-in viewer, which means the recipient does not have to have PowerPoint.

You can get a free trial version of the new PowerPoint at TryMicrosoftOffice.com. For the frugal among you, OpenOffice also has a presentation program as part of its Office suite, and that can be had for free atOpenOffice.org.

As chance would have it, we found a Web site that carries what it calls the worst PowerPoint presentation ever made. It is awful, and watching it can teach you what to avoid. You can view it athttp://tinyurl.com/362ckt.

 

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