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Microsoft PowerPoint

Microsoft PowerPoint
Developer(s) Microsoft
Initial release May 22, 1990 (1990-05-22)
Stable release 2016 (16.0.4266.1003) / 22 September 2015 (2015-09-22)
Written in C++[1]
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Type Presentation program
License Trialware
Website /
Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac
PowerPoint for Mac 2016
Developer(s) Microsoft
Stable release 2016 (15.14.0) / 15 September 2015 (2015-09-15)[2]
Operating system Mac OS X
Type Presentation program
License Proprietary commercial software
Website /powerpoint/

Microsoft PowerPoint is a slide show presentation program currently developed by Microsoft. PowerPoint's predecessor, "Presenter", was created by Forethought Inc., and PowerPoint was officially launched on May 22, 1990, as a part of the Microsoft Office suite. PowerPoint is useful for helping develop the slide-based presentation format, and is currently one of the most commonly-used presentation programs available.


  • History 1
  • Operation 2
  • Cultural impact 3
    • Military excess in the US 3.1
    • Artistic medium 3.2
  • PowerPoint Viewer 4
  • Versions 5
  • File formats 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10


Originally designed for the Macintosh computer, the initial release was called "Presenter", developed by Thomas Rudkin and Dennis Austin. [3] of Forethought, Inc.[4] In 1987, it was renamed to "PowerPoint" due to problems with trademarks, the idea for the name coming from Robert Gaskins.[5] In August of the same year, Forethought was bought by Microsoft for $14 million USD ($29.1 million in present-day terms[6]), and became Microsoft's Graphics Business Unit, which continued to develop the software further. PowerPoint was officially launched on May 22, 1990, the same day that Microsoft released Windows 3.0.

PowerPoint introduced many new changes with the release of PowerPoint 97. It incorporated the Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) language, underlying all macro generation in Office 97.

PowerPoint 2000 (and the rest of the Office 2000 suite) introduced a clipboard that could hold multiple objects at once, and the Office Assistant was made less intrusive.[7]

PowerPoint 2002 massively overhauled the animation engine, allowing users to create more advanced and custom animations.[8]

PowerPoint 2011 makes it possible to remove image backgrounds, and provides additional special effects for pictures, such as 'Pencil effects'.

As of 2012, various versions of PowerPoint claim ~95% of the presentation software market share, with installations on at least 1 billion computers. Among presenters world-wide, this program is used at an estimated frequency of 350 times per second.[9]


PowerPoint presentations consist of a number of individual pages or "slides". The "slide" analogy is a reference to the slide projector. Slides may contain text, graphics, sound, movies, and other objects, which may be arranged freely. The presentation can be printed, displayed live on a computer, or navigated through at the command of the presenter. For larger audiences the computer display is often projected using a video projector. Slides can also form the basis of webcasts.

PowerPoint provides three types of movements:

  1. Entrance, emphasis, and exit of elements on a slide itself are controlled by what PowerPoint calls Custom Animations.
  2. Transitions, on the other hand, are movements between slides. These can be animated in a variety of ways.
  3. Custom animation can be used to create small story boards by animating pictures to enter, exit or move.

PowerPoint provides numerous features that offer flexibility and the ability to create a professional presentation. One of the features provides the ability to create a presentation that includes music which plays throughout the entire presentation or sound effects for particular slides. In addition to the ability to add sound files, the presentation can be designed to run, like a movie, on its own. PowerPoint allows the user to record the slide show with narration and a laser pointer. The user may customize slide shows to show the slides in a different order than originally designed and to have slides appear multiple times. Microsoft also offers the ability to broadcast the presentation to specific users via a link and Windows Live.

Cultural impact

A PowerPoint presentation in progress.

Supporters say that[10][11][12] the ease of use of presentation software can save a lot of time for people who otherwise would have used other types of visual aid—hand-drawn or mechanically typeset slides, blackboards or whiteboards, or overhead projections. Ease of use also encourages those who otherwise would not have used visual aids, or would not have given a presentation at all, to make presentations. As PowerPoint's style, animation, and multimedia abilities have become more sophisticated, and as the application has generally made it easier to produce presentations (even to the point of having an "AutoContent Wizard" that was discontinued in PowerPoint 2007, suggesting a structure for a presentation), the difference in needs and desires of presenters and audiences has become more noticeable.[13] Experienced PowerPoint designers point out that the "AutoContent Wizard" caused a glitch which contributed greatly to on-screen freezing of slides. Many designers opt to use the "blank slide layout" in lieu of the other layout choices for this reason. Nevertheless, in normal business use, most presentations created using PowerPoint are based on its default layout and font choices.[14]

The benefit of PowerPoint is continually debated, though most people believe that the benefit may be to present structural presentations to business workers, such as Raytheon Elcan does.[15] Its use in classroom lectures has influenced investigations of PowerPoint's effects on student performance in comparison to lectures based on overhead projectors, traditional lectures, and online lectures. There are no compelling results to prove or disprove that PowerPoint is more effective for learner retention than traditional presentation methods.[16] Statistician and designer Edward Tufte suggests that as PowerPoint on its own has limited ability to present complex tables and graphics, a better approach is to provide the audience with printed data and a written report for them to read at the start of the meeting, before leading them through the report with a talk. He noted that after the Columbia disaster, a report on the accident recommended that PowerPoint should never be used as the sole method for presenting scientific material.

Military excess in the US

A "PowerPoint Ranger" is a military member who relies heavily on presentation software to the point of excess. Some junior officers spend the majority of their time preparing PowerPoint slides.[17] Because of its usefulness for presenting mission briefings, it has become part of the culture of the military,[18][19] but is regarded as a poor decision-making tool.[20] As a result, some generals, such as Brigadier-General Herbert McMaster, have banned the use of PowerPoint in their operations.[17] In September 2010, Colonel Lawrence Sellin was fired from his post at the ISAF for publishing a piece critical of the over-dependence of military staffs on the presentation method and bloated bureaucracy.[21]

Artistic medium

Musician David Byrne has been using PowerPoint as a medium for art for years, producing a book and DVD and showing at galleries his PowerPoint based artwork.[22] The expressions "PowerPoint Art" or "pptArt" are used to define a contemporary Italian artistic movement which believes that the corporate world can be a unique and exceptional source of inspiration for the artist.

PowerPoint Viewer

Microsoft Office PowerPoint Viewer is a program used to run presentations on computers that do not have PowerPoint installed. Office PowerPoint Viewer (or in PowerPoint 2007 and later, a link to a viewer download) is added by default to the same disk or network location that contains one or more presentations packaged by using the Package for CD feature.

PowerPoint Viewer is installed by default with a Microsoft Office 2003 installation for use with the Package for CD feature. The PowerPoint Viewer file is also available for download from the Microsoft Office Online Web site.[23]

Presentations password-protected for opening or modifying can be opened by PowerPoint Viewer. The Package for CD feature allows packaging any password-protected file or setting a new password for all packaged presentations. PowerPoint Viewer prompts for a password if the file is open password-protected.

PowerPoint Viewer supports opening presentations created using PowerPoint 97 and later. In addition, it supports all file content except OLE objects and scripting. PowerPoint Viewer is currently only available for computers running on Microsoft Windows.


Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 running on Windows 7

Versions for Microsoft Windows include:

  • 1990 PowerPoint 2.0 for Windows 3.0
  • 1992 PowerPoint 3.0 for Windows 3.1
  • 1993 PowerPoint 4.0 (Office 4.x)
  • 1995 PowerPoint for Windows 95 (version 7.0; Office 95)
  • 1997 PowerPoint 97 (version 8.0; Office 97)
  • 1999 PowerPoint 2000 (version 9.0; Office 2000)
  • 2001 PowerPoint 2002 (version 10; Office XP)
  • 2003 Office PowerPoint 2003 (version 11; Office 2003)
  • 2007 Office PowerPoint 2007 (version 12; Office 2007)
  • 2010 PowerPoint 2010 (version 14; Office 2010)
  • 2013 PowerPoint 2013 (version 15; Office 2013)
  • 2015 PowerPoint 2016 (version 16; Office 2016)
Note: There is no PowerPoint version 5.0 or 6.0, because the Windows 95 version was launched with Word 7.0. All Office 95 products have OLE 2 capacity—moving data automatically from various programs—and PowerPoint 7.0 shows that it was contemporary with Word 7.0.
Note 2: Version number 13 was skipped due to superstition.
Icon for PowerPoint for Mac 2008
Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac 2011

Versions for the Mac OS include:

Note: There is no PowerPoint 5.0, 6.0 or 7.0 for Mac. There is no version 5.0 or 6.0 because the Windows 95 version was launched with Word 7. All of the Office 95 products have OLE 2 capacity—moving data automatically from various programs—and PowerPoint 7 shows that it was contemporary with Word 7. There was no version 7.0 made for Mac to coincide with either version 7.0 for Windows or PowerPoint 97.[24][25]

File formats

PowerPoint Presentation
Filename extension .ppt, .pptx, .pps, or .ppsx
Internet media type application/
Developed by Microsoft
Type of format Presentation

The binary format specification has been available from Microsoft on request, but since February 2008 the .ppt format specification can be freely downloaded.[26]

In Microsoft Office 2007 the binary file formats were replaced as the default format by the new XML based Office Open XML formats, which are published as an open standard. Nevertheless, they are not complete as there are binary blobs inside of the XML files, and several pieces of behaviour are not specified but refer to the observed behaviour of specific versions of Microsoft product.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^

Further reading

  • Lowenthal, P. R. (2009). Improving the Design of PowerPoint Presentations . In P. R. Lowenthal, D. Thomas, A. Thai, & B. Yuhnke, B. (Eds.), The CU Online handbook. Teach differently: Create and collaborate (pp. 61–66). Raleigh, NC: Lulu Enterprises.
  • , also at [1] (Feb 2015).
  • Pptpop (2014).3 Secret Rules to Killer PowerPoint Presentations

External links

  • Official website
  • PowerPoint team blog at MSDN Blogs
  • Office 2010 product guide
  • PowerPoint Viewer
  • Microsoft Mouse Mischief—a PowerPoint add-in
  • Microsoft PowerPoint at DMOZ
  • Robert Gaskins's website, one of the PowerPoint developers
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