World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


"Power point" redirects here. For other uses, see Power point (disambiguation).
Microsoft PowerPoint
Developer(s) Microsoft
Stable release 2013 (15.0.4420.1017) / October 2, 2012; 20 months ago (2012-10-02)
Written in C++
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Type Presentation program
License Trialware
Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac
Developer(s) Microsoft
Stable release 2011 ( SP1) / June 14, 2011; 3 years ago (2011-06-14)
Operating system Mac OS X
Type Presentation program
License Proprietary commercial software

Microsoft PowerPoint is the name of a proprietary commercial presentation program developed by Microsoft. It was officially launched on May 22, 1990, as a part of the Microsoft Office suite, and runs on Microsoft Windows and Apple's Mac OS X operating system.


Originally designed for the Macintosh computer, the initial release was called "Presenter", developed by Dennis Austin and Thomas Rudkin of Forethought, Inc.[1] In 1987, it was renamed to "PowerPoint" due to problems with trademarks, the idea for the name coming from Robert Gaskins.[2] In August of the same year, Forethought was bought by Microsoft for $14 million USD ($29.1 million in present-day terms[3]), 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. Prior to PowerPoint 97, presentations were linear, always proceeding from one slide to the next. PowerPoint 97 incorporated the Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) language, underlying all macro generation in Office 97, which allowed users to invoke pre-defined transitions and effects in a non-linear movie-like style without having to learn programming.

PowerPoint 2000 (and the rest of the Office 2000 suite) introduced a clipboard that could hold multiple objects at once. Another change was that the Office Assistant was changed to be less intrusive.[4]

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.[5]


PowerPoint presentations consist of a number of individual pages or "slides". The "slide" analogy is a reference to the slide projector. A better analogy would be the "foils" (or transparencies/plastic sheets) that are shown with an overhead projector, although they are in decline now. 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 offers 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. You may customize slide shows to show the slides in different order than originally design 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

Supporters say that[6][7][8] 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.

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.[9] 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.[10]


Although PowerPoint has the aforementioned benefits, some argue that PowerPoint has negatively affected society. The terms "Death by PowerPoint" and "PowerPoint Hell" refer to the poor use of the software. Many large companies and branches of the government use PowerPoint as a way to brief employees on important issues that they must make decisions about. Opponents of PowerPoint argue that reducing complex issues to bulleted points is detrimental to the decision making process; in other words, because the amount of information in a presentation must be condensed, viewing a PowerPoint presentation does not give one enough detailed information to make a truly informed decision.

A frequently cited example is Edward Tufte's analysis of PowerPoint slides prepared for briefing NASA officials concerning possible damage to the Space Shuttle Columbia during its final launch.[11] Tufte argues that the slides, prepared by the Boeing Company, had the effect of oversimplifying the situation, and provided false assurance that the ultimately fatal damage to the shuttle was only minimal. Tufte argued:

  • The most critical information was consigned to the lowest level of importance in the outline style.
  • The low resolution of the slides encouraged the use of acronyms and undescriptive pronouns instead of specific, descriptive terms and language.
  • PowerPoint's limited font styling obscured proper notation of key scientific measurements.
Tufte concluded that:
The language, spirit, and presentation tool of the pitch culture had penetrated throughout the NASA organization, even into the most serious technical analysis, the survival of the shuttle.[11]

Similar criticisms appeared in the Report of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board ("Engineering by Viewgraphs" v.1, p.191).[12]

Clifford Nass, who studies the "social-psychological aspects of human-interactive media interaction" at Stanford University, noted how PowerPoint presentations can mask the thought process: "PowerPoint gives you the outcome, but it removes the process."[13]

"Death by PowerPoint"

Death by PowerPoint” is a criticism of slide-based presentations referring to a state of boredom and fatigue induced by information overload during presentations such as those created by the Microsoft application PowerPoint.

The phrase was first coined by Angela R. Garber.[14] Further criticisms of the cognitive effects of PowerPoint have been expounded by others, for example, Edward Tufte (2006)[15] and Kalyuga et al. (1991).[16] Wright (2009) suggests PowerPoint is a convenient prop for poor speakers, it can reduce complicated messages to simple bullet points and it elevates style over substance; and that these three things contribute to its popularity.[17] It can also be called “PowerPoint Poisoning”—a term originated by Scott Adams of Dilbert fame.

Some presenters opt to combine a PowerPoint presentation with the display of 'live' 2 or 3 dimensional materials using a connected Visualizer. This switching between media can help to reduce the likelihood of 'Death by PowerPoint' occurring during a presentation.[18][19][20]


“PowerPoint hell” is the tedium some people report on sitting through PowerPoint visual presentations that are too long and complex, making excessive use of the software’s features and when the presenter just reads from the slides.[21][22][23][24]

Retired Marine Colonel Thomas X. Hammes says that this effect, which he calls “hypnotizing chickens”, is useful when the goal is to avoid divulging information, as in military press briefings.[25]

Add-on tools like YawnBuster and PowerMockup try to help reduce boredom from PowerPoint presentations by making them more interactive. A presenter can add interactivities to the presentation which increase the audience involvement.[26]

Military excess

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.[27] Because of its usefulness for presenting mission briefings, it has become part of the culture of the military,[25][28] but is regarded as a poor decision-making tool.[29] As a result some generals, such as Brigadier-General Herbert McMaster, have banned the use of PowerPoint in their operations.[27] 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.[30]

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.[31]

PowerPoint Viewer

Microsoft Office PowerPoint Viewer is a program used to run presentations on computers that do not have PowerPoint installed. Office PowerPoint Viewer 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.

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.


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)
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.

Versions for the Mac OS include:

  • 1987 PowerPoint 1.0 for Mac OS classic
  • 1988 PowerPoint 2.0 for Mac OS classic
  • 1992 PowerPoint 3.0 for Mac OS classic
  • 1994 PowerPoint 4.0 for Mac OS classic
  • 1998 PowerPoint 98 (8.0) for Mac OS classic (Office 1998 for Mac)
  • 2000 PowerPoint 2001 (9.0) for Mac OS classic (Office 2001 for Mac)
  • 2002 PowerPoint v. X (10.0) for Mac OS X (Office:Mac v. X)
  • 2004 PowerPoint 2004 (11.0) for Mac OS X Office:Mac 2004
  • 2008 PowerPoint 2008 (12.0) for Mac OS X Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac
  • 2010 PowerPoint 2011 (14.0) for Mac OS X Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac

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.[32][33]

Microsoft PowerPoint 2011

In PowerPoint 2011, several key features have been added. Screen Capturing allows for taking a screenshot and adding it into the document. It is now possible to remove background images, and there are additional special effects that can be used with pictures, such as 'Pencil effects'. Additional transitions are also available. However, the ability to apply certain text effects directly onto existing text, as seen in Microsoft Word is not available; a separate WordArt text box is still required.

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

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.

Password protection

Main article: Microsoft Office password protection

The Microsoft Office password protection is a security feature to protect Microsoft Office documents with a user provided password.

See also


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.
  • Kalyuga, S., Chandler, P. & Sweller, J. (2004). When redundant on-screen text in multimedia technical instruction can interfere with learning. Human Factors, 46, 567-581.

External links

  • MSDN Blogs
  • Office 2010 product guide
  • PowerPoint Viewer
  • Microsoft Mouse Mischief—a PowerPoint add-in
  • DMOZ
  • Robert Gaskins's website, one of the PowerPoint developers
  • PowerPoint Search Engine
  • MS PowerPoint Communication, Search Engine, PPT video tutorials and Music for presentations
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.