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Are There Any Good Alternatives to PowerPoint?


Are There Good Alternatives to PowerPoint?

Office XP (complete with PowerPoint 2002) is now officially launched, but what
if you just don’t want to "experience" this latest upgrade from Microsoft?
You may be thinking, "What choice do I have? What other presentation software
is there?" Glad you asked. I’ve collected some information on what other
presentation software packages exist.

When considering any presentation software, first ask yourself, "What
will I be using this software for?" Some features are great---if you are
going to use them. Identify which software package will meet your needs. ALWAYS
read third-party reviews of software from such sources as PCWorld (,
ZDNet (, or Woody’s Office
Portal (for Microsoft Office products) (
to help determine if the software or upgrade is worth investing in. Also ask
yourself if the software or upgrade improves upon past weaknesses or adds features
that will make a major difference in your ability to produce the presentations
you need now and into the foreseeable future.

Of course, everyone wants presentation software that has a short learning curve, user friendliness, crash resistance, a lot of free templates, Internet posting capabilities, first-class support, and clipart galore.

We all need to create attractive-looking presentations containing interesting
animations that help to make our point, and we don’t want to have to be a programmer
to use some of the more "advanced" features. Trainers, in particular,
are increasingly wanting to be able to convert their presentations into standalone
courses for reuse and to stream over the Internet as well as add interactivity
to help with certain subject matter. They would want a high-end presentation
software package that they can use essentially as a low-end authoring tool.
This is a very different need from a sales professional who needs to create
many different presentations for specific clients. Whatever your use for presentation
software, review any package by testing it on your specific projects before
deciding to adopt it as your standard.

So, what’s available?

Here is a listing of quite a few presentation software packages. Take time to
review these options, and try out those that provide demos. Be sure to read the
software company’s website and independent reviews. Talk to others in your profession.



Reviewed by MacAddict magazine:

Adobe Persuasion (discontinued by Adobe in 1998)

ZDNet review of Persuasion

Astound---Prides itself on producing "slides on steroids."
Focuses on multimedia development in presentations. Excellent tool.

Cartouche Presentation Software

Can create and manage multimedia presentations.

Corel Presentations

Review of Corel Presentations by Geetesh Bajaj:

DazzlerMax---Authoring software that can create killer presentations.

Harvard Graphics—Long-established presentation software

Reviewed by ZDNet UK:,3040,e7108474,00.html

Lotus Freelance Graphics (included with SmartSuite Millenium)

Review by Educational Computing:

Macromedia Authorware---Like DazzlerMax, high-end authoring software
that can also create presentations

Movie Works Deluxe—Multimedia movie maker that can be used to make presentations

OperaShow—Using the Opera browser as a presentation tool. (Note: presentations
can also be created in any HTML editor.)

ZDNet discusses Opera 5 and OperaShow:,4161,2673057,00.html

PowerPoint XP---(Part of Office XP or can be purchased separately) Microsoft’s
industry-leading, market-dominating presentation software. Good in many respects.
A great deal of support.

Geetesh Bajaj on PowerPoint XP:

Scala---another multimedia movie maker used in television that can be
used to make video-rich presentations

Star Impress (part of FREE Star Office suite from Sun Microsystems)
Excellent presentation software that reads from and writes to PowerPoint format.
Interface similar to PowerPoint. More drawing features than PowerPoint.

Input from the University of Bristol:

Thinkfreeshow---"ThinkFree Show is presentation application that
enables you to create powerful presentations using drawings, diagrams, clipart,
and other various graphic features. ThinkFree Show is also compatible with Microsoft
PowerPoint." ----Thinkfree website

Thinkfree is an office suite ASPs (application service providers)---USD$50/year


What would I recommend? Use the software that you feel can create the presentations
that you want. This may mean that you need good technical support and/or a large
user group to exchange ideas and get technical answers. My recommendation is
to look over some of the above-mentioned software options and not just stay
with what you’ve been using because it’s always worked for you. Investigate
different kinds of presentation software for new and improved features. If you
do choose to change which package you use, GRADUALLY migrate to the new package.

You may find that a smaller, less expensive package with fewer features works better and faster for you or you may stay with what you are using now. The key is, always be looking for "new and improved" presentation software tools, as they get more powerful each day.


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