There are two most important enhancements that have been applied system-wide (or the suite-wide) in Office 2007, because these are equally valid for PowerPoint 2007. One is the new Graphical User Interface (GUI). This is a completely new paradigm and probably what is holding most people back as far as taking the plunge to Office 2007. Although it may take a little while (for me it was 3 days, if that) to get used to, the gains in terms of time and efficiency cannot be stated highly enough. The other is the use of a different file format (.pptx). Essentially, these are an XML-based method of storing Office document files, and result in a much smaller file-size – often as much as half or more, especially for documents having fewer media elements. Now to some more:
The New User Interface
As mentioned before the most noticeable difference is the new user interface. This, in turn is also the most influential. The new task bar, which takes up more space at the top of the window than before is appropriately titled the Ribbon – because, well, it is at least as thick as a ribbon, but I also suspect it is because a ribbon inherently suggests the idea of flexibility.
The Ribbon makes use of a number of contextual tabs – Home, Insert, Design, Animations, Slide Show, Review, and View – which are so designed as to make common tasks easier. For example, the presentation might already be ready as a first draft and you need to simply edit and review, then you can simply go into the “Review” tab, and all the relevant functions are available easily.
Most of the tab names themselves are self-explanatory, and the thing to remember is to realize what you are doing and move to that tab before undertaking your task. If clicking around with a mouse becomes too tedious for you, then just hit “Alt” and all keyboard options will be highlighted (for example to move to the “Review” tab, the “R” is highlighted) hitting the appropriate key at this point will take you to the required tab, and what’s more, there will be a whole set of secondary key-strokes highlighted for a specific task (in our example “C” for a new comment).
Design Themes and Previews
Because you get a “Design” tab, one automatically expects improvements on that front. The Design Templates concept is now superseded by the Design Themes. Design Themes allow you to make changes to the theme and have them applied across the board over your entire presentation. You can create a specific theme designed to your needs (modifying existing themes or starting from scratch) and use this for all your future presentations (You also have the ability to create custom layouts that you frequently use).
Previews are available by hovering over a certain design theme, or animation, which gives you a sense of what to expect when you use a particular thing because a selected slide will be modified accordingly and if you don’t like it, just move your mouse and you’re back where you started (similar things happen in the case of selected text – changing font or font-size, etc.).
Other enhancements include: designer quality drawing tools with SmartArt graphics, a significant improvement on previous edition’s drawing capabilities; a smarter spell-checker which works the same across the Office 2007 universe, with a contextual spellchecking option (get rid of “their” vs. “there”) and an exclusion list (ex: obscene words; automatically removed); new and improved effects such as reflection, glow, etc. and enhancements in the “Animations” tab and WordArt; the “Slide Show” tab has a rehearse timing feature which will record the timing you use while practicing and you can use that during presentation; and best of all, the ability to save-to-PDF (as well as save-to-XPS), in case you want to ensure portability, or for hand-outs.
But for the cost deterrent, why are you still using older versions of Office?