Last week I took the plunge and gave Mac360 readers a first look at Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, specifically Word and Excel.
Let’s take a look at PowerPoint, which I use instead of Apple’s Keynote. What? Blasphemous, you say? Sorry, I’m a big fan of Microsoft Office for Mac. It’s that whole compatibility with the business world thing, I guess.
And, more sorrow, I use PowerPoint for presentations more than I use iWork’s lovely Keynote. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Keynote. It’s more than very good, and often better than PowerPoint 2004. Again, there’s that compatibility problem to contend with.
Much of the business world I deal with requires a measure of compatibility; file compatibility between me, the Mac user, and nearly everyone else, almost all of whom use Windows and Microsoft Office. That means Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files need to be interchanged with few compatibility issues.
Last week I offered my first look at Word and Excel. Both are healthy improvements and remain compatible with Office for Windows. Word is especially nice and actually looks more like Apple’s Pages. Excel’s changes were nominal, except for dumping Visual Basic capability. For some Mac users in business, that’s a deal breaker.
I don’t just use Excel and Word. I’m deep into Microsoft’s PowerPoint, and even deeper into Entourage. PowerPoint first.
If you think Word for Office 2008 looks like Apple’s Pages, then you’ll be pleased with PowerPoint. Think Keynote. Think simpler, easier, more colorful.
PowerPoint of old was littered with menus, palettes and toolbars; so much so that it was easy to lose them on a big screen. Office 2008 has this nifty new Toolbox, which is really more of a floating, dynamic palette. Think more things you can do in less space.
PowerPoint 2008 looks cleaner and neater and easier to use. Frankly, with Leopard’s new unified window look, PowerPoint looks like Keynote. Gone are the Slide, Outline, Normal Views, replaced by a View that can be customized. Again, think Keynote. It’s quite similar to the built-in Navigator.
Microsoft is spreading the wealth these days, and PowerPoint gets the Office 2008 Elements Gallery and Tabs—layouts, themes, table styles, charts, graphics, transitions, and Word Art. This is a welcome addition to make heavy users of PowerPoint save a little time.
Everything in Leopard is graphic oriented these days, and Microsoft made sure that PowerPoint could handle all the imaging options built in to OS X. That’s why it looks like Keynote. Drop shadows, special effects, transparent this and that, even reflections are all used in PowerPoint.
The Formatting Palette also display what’s new in Picture Effects. You get quick access to a bucket of effects tools—color, optical, blurring, sharpening, and more. For most of us that means we can tweak graphic images in PowerPoint without having to resort to Photoshop or Elements.
Though not often used in presentations, Keynote has a great way of handling animation. PowerPoint couldn’t do that, and based on what I’ve seen so far, shouldn’t have bothered. Keynote is better.
Also similar to Keynote, though with a typical Microsoft look, are PowerPoint’s Themes and Templates. Apple’s style is not Microsoft’s style. They’re good, but all tend to look like they came from a presentation of Windows users.
Placement, movement, and adjustments of Template elements is easier in PowerPoint 2008, again, obviously influenced by Apple’s work in Keynote. Drag, drop, adjust. Microsoft also makes sure that presentations can be exported in a variety of formats and platforms.
iPhoto, iPod, iPhone. Apple’s Remote Control can also be used to control PowerPoint.
The mixture of tools, document graphic elements, template styles, and ease-of-use make PowerPoint a worthy competitor to Keynote, though still a bit more complex. It’s almost as if Microsoft does not fully comprehend terms such as ‘elegant, simple, ease-of-use, or interface design’ and simply copies what they can from Apple.
I’m not complaining because PowerPoint is an improvement, a long awaited improvement, over the Office 2004 version, and integrates the Office-wide tools, so that what you use in Word and Excel can be easily adopted in PowerPoint.
The entire Office 2008 for Mac can run on both PowerMac and Intel Macs, though for PPC Macs a 500Mhz G4 is the minimum. Get this. The whole installation of Office 2008 takes up over 1.5 gigabytes of hard drive. How long will it be before we need Blu-ray SuperDrives just to install applications?
More details are available on the Mac360 Store, including discounts on the Home and Student version, and the Office 2008 Upgrade version. Next up will be a look at my favorite Mac application ever. Entourage. Give me another day or so to digest the changes.