Microsoft Powerpoint vs Google Presentations

April 11, 2013

in Education, Operations

Recently, we have worked more and more with Google Presentations, instead of Microsoft Powerpoint. Slides are constantly getting tweaked, and we do not run Windows on most of our computers (we mainly use Linux).  Here are my impressions of the advantages and disadvantages of Google Presentations:

Advantages of Google Presentations

  • Collaboration, especially for our Linux users that don’t have access to Windows/PPT on a regular convenient basis
  • Collaboration, for those moments when we’ve wanted to simultaneously edit the slides by multiple people.  I’ve actually edited other people’s slides in real-time while they were presenting in front of 100+ people – that’s cool!

Disadvantages of Google Presentations

  • No way to put in page numbers
  • You can’t highlight everything in a slide (CTRL-A) and then change the font color for everything at once. If you highlight any element of a slide that is not a text box, the ability to change the font color of the group goes away. So you have to carefully select text boxes one-at-a-time, while holding CTRL, to be able to batch-mode change their font-color.  In our more complicated graphics slides, this is really annoying.
  • There is no convenient way to copy a slide from one presentation to another
  • There is no convenient way to copy slide elements from one presentation to another
  • Copying elements from one slide of a presentation to another slide of the same presentation does not automatically preserve location within the slide
  • Rescaling elements of a slide does not have convenient measurements so that you can ensure uniformity (e.g. I wanted to make sure the ArrayFire logo on the title page of each slidedeck was exactly the same size and Google Presentations doesn’t give a good way to get the exact size for rescaling)
  • The polishing features like grouping elements, aligning vertically/horizontally are not as nice in Google (though partly possible)

In my mind, there is no clear cut winner between Google and MSFT on this one.  Since the engineers are driving the content and delivery, we will continue to use Google Presentations more and work around the deficiencies manually.

Note: John Humphrey pointed out that Office 365 might be a good mix of all the benefits of MS Office with the added benefit of collaboration. He also reports success running the browser apps in Linux, though MS doesn’t make it very clear that Linux is supported in its system requirements page (desktop version is only for Windows/Mac). Also, it looks like a $5 user/month small business subscription gets you the web-only version (which is all we want) though the pricing is hard to understand.

What tradeoffs have you seen with Microsoft Powerpoint vs Google Presentations?

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