Microsoft has recently demonstrated its new Office suite which includes the much anticipated PowerPoint 2013. An official release date hasn't yet been announced although it is likely to be early in 2013. It is currently possible to download and evaluate a trial version of the new software as part of the Office 2013 software bundle.
The first things you notice about the latest PowerPoint version is the new start menu and 'Metro' styling. The new start screen has been completely redesigned and gives quick access to recent files and templates. The Metro design language is Microsoft's typography-based design language originally created for use in Windows Phone 7. The key principle of Metro is to focus on the content of the applications, relying more on typography and less on graphics. Overall, the changes give the impression of a slick uncluttered interface that is fast and intuitive.
Office 2013 is designed to only run on Windows 7 or 8 (Windows 8 is due for release in late 2012), meaning that it won't work on Windows XP or Vista. Although only 5 years old, the market share of Vista is minimal, XP is now over 10 years old, but is still used in a lot of business environments. Current estimates of PCs running XP and Vista are 51%, so some might question the logic of releasing software that won't run on the majority of current computers.
Templates have been improved for the new version and are now available in a 16:9 aspect ratio, which reflects the dimensions of most current computer screens. It is also possible to create theme variants by choosing an alternative colour scheme to current templates, anyone using such a template would automatically have the right colours in place for slide elements.
A big development for the latest version of PowerPoint is the introduction of touch control support. There are now many tablet devices on the market, the most well known of these being Apple's iPad which is supported by this new version of Microsoft PowerPoint. The ribbon is larger, allowing for touch control, touch navigation has been introduced with swipe and pinch gestures allowing users to manipulate slides in an immediate and intuitive manner.
Cloud integration is another important new addition to this edition of PowerPoint. Collaborating with others is made simpler with the ability to place and track comments next to text you're discussing. Presentations are saved online to SkyDrive or SharePoint by default and it's possible to work together on the same presentation by using the PowerPoint Web App. The ability to insert video, audio or images directly into presentations from a search in the embedded Bing search engine gives access to a huge range of royalty free multimedia items.
In conclusion, Powerpoint 2013 will be essential for users wanting to create presentations with touch screen tablet devices, although the lack of support for older operating systems may put some people off. The ability to backup, collaborate and source a wide range of multimedia in the cloud adds great new functionality that sets this version aside from its predecessors.
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