If you’ve ever experienced the privilege of having to present an idea in class or in a meeting you appreciate how useful a PowerPoint presentation can be. I recall sitting in boot camp many moons ago. In Marine boot camp we had quite a bit of field training. And in the field a PowerPoint isn’t the best option; our instructors used hard-copied, laminated sheets, sandwiched between two 2×4 boards. I couldn’t help but think during those moments and in my memory of them since,
“Wow, thank God we have PowerPoint! Updating one of those laminated – hard copies would be a real pain.”
I’m sure at this point, anyone who was born before 1980 is rolling their eyes. And having been born in the very early 1980’s, I do remember a time before powerpoint, and even, the widespread use of computers in school or work. But even if I recall that time, I’m not actively seeking it out. PowerPoint is one of those tools that have changed the world. And generally for the better.
In response to PowerPoint changing the world, others have sought to copy and improve upon it. Keynote being a prime example. To be honest, Keynote is wonderful for some applications, but PowerPoint is the original, and in many ways is a better choice than PowerPoint.
So with the disclaimer that I tend to use Keynote first, to provide objectivity, here are a few ways that PowerPoint is in-fact better than Keynote and all other Presentation Platforms.
Nothing in the world of computers de-stresses a situation more than working with tools that are imminently compatible. When you work with PowerPoint, you know that you can save something on a thumb drive or even to the cloud and pick it up from another computer, another brand of computer, another network, most other operating systems, and so on. PowerPoint on one computer is the same PowerPoint on all computers.
In contrast, when designing in Keynote, I acknowledge that I better be bringing a laptop along to wherever I’m going because in 99 out of 100 cases the location I’m traveling to won’t have a Mac with Keynote installed. My failsafe is lugging around my MacBook Pro. You don’t have to worry about this with PowerPoint, and that’s a huge bonus!
Most people use PowerPoint in school. PowerPoint is the platform they grew up learning. It’s like Microsoft Word; it’s fundamental to producing coursework now-days. This robust education pipeline leads to a familiarity that other platforms would require generations of work to overcome.
In fact, that’s a huge barrier for other platforms. For other platforms to strong arm their way into this software use case they essentially have to aim to be more user-friendly. But that’s a tall task compared to PowerPoint, when for over 20 years – 12-year-olds have been able to figure it out.
The reason other platforms have to aim to be more user-friendly that they have to convince current PowerPoint users that their platform is easier to use to achieve the same goal. The alternative is to convince PowerPoint users that their platforms are more capable than PowerPoint. And that’s a tough task.
There are aspects and user segments that might find a program like Keynote either easier to use or more capable/powerful. But from a Keynote fanboy himself (me) to the PowerPoint faithful, I openly admit that with enough elbow-grease, PowerPoint can do pretty much anything Keynote and other platforms can do.
The reason other platforms have to compete on ease of use is that they can’t claim to have a competitive edge for capabilities.
Third Party Compatibility
One capability that is glaringly missing among all other platforms is cross-platform compatibility. If you’re developing a presentation locally but want to save it and send it online, platforms like Google Docs are great! If you want to upload a presentation to Google Docs and edit in a browser window (not have to take your computer with you everywhere you go!), then you best be working in PowerPoint.
Of course, if you’re desperate to stick with Keynote, you can export to PowerPoint just for the ability to upload to Google Docs. And that process in itself should say something about the power and cross platform compatibility of PowerPoint when the main competition for the software can export to PowerPoint (.pptx).
Surely there are other things we’re missing. Strengths, weaknesses? Are there other platforms we should review?
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