Two Thumbs Up: Office 2013 Enhanced For Tablets, Thumb Control


As with 2013 versions of Word and Excel, PowerPoint 2013 doesn't require people to have the app to view your presentations; Office 2013 docs can be easily shared, allowing others to view documents through any web browser.

To share a document, simply select Share from the file menu. This brings up a login for Windows Live. After logging in, a URL pops up that can be copied and pasted into an email for inviting participants. In our tests, web sharing worked perfectly with Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers. Safari was unable to join a presentation in progress.

In the browsers, slides advanced almost immediately along with the presenters'; browser back buttons are inoperable. We weren't able to find a way to bring up that URL again after a presentation begins, in case anyone wants to join late. Short of quitting the app, there appears to be no way to stop an online presentation once the show's over.

Microsoft has added lots of tools to PowerPoint 2013 to aid in the creation of presentations. For starters, a new start screen displays about a half-dozen attractive wide-screen themes that can spark ideas for new presentations. As in Word 2013, a series of new or improved alignment guides help in the precise placement of art elements and other objects so that images don't appear to jump around from one slide to the next. Also new are master level guides, which appear when creating new slides from a master. When using SkyDrive, multiple people can collaborate on a slide show at the same time.

PowerPoint now (finally) supports music as a bed for an entire presentation. Perhaps as long awaited, a new presenter view lets the presenter navigate through all available slides without affecting what is being displayed. This allows presenters to skip directly to a slide ahead or back using a visual grid without forcing everyone to also watch the replay. And, as in other Office 2013 apps, Facebook, Flickr and other cloud services can now be direct sources for imagery.

When connecting to a second screen or projector, PowerPoint 2013 automatically adjusts that screen's settings and switches to presenter mode. And in case it gets the screens mixed up, a "swap displays" function reverses the error. Presenters can help an in-person audience focus on particular areas of a slide with a new click, or tap, to zoom, but web participants see only static images.

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