With Sway, Microsoft Reimagines shows For The put up-PowerPoint technology

instead of transforming its decades-previous presentation device, the corporate is attempting one thing new—and asking its users to lend a hand build it.

August 5, 2015

When Chris Pratley and his workforce ask for consumer feedback on Microsoft Sway, they occasionally have to emphasise that they’re not constructing PowerPoint all over the place again.

At a glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Sway is a new device that lets users string collectively pictures, textual content, and bullet factors in a visually arresting way. In other phrases, Sway creates shows, very like PowerPoint. It’s even a part of the Microsoft workplace suite, having just shed its “Preview” designation after 10 months of personal and public trying out.

however as Pratley factors out, Sway isn’t meant for a similar exact target audience as PowerPoint. It’s a much simpler application, with far fewer controls, and most of its formatting is computerized, so each and every Sway can adapt to any reveal size on a laptop, tablet, or telephone. the fact that you could’t tweak things down to the individual pixel, as with PowerPoint, is with the aid of design. “the rest the place you’re constructing a complicated layout, that’s actually a PowerPoint state of affairs, and no longer a Sway one,” says Pratley, who’s Sway’s founder and general manager. (Microsoft is not the only company taking this method, as Sway is competing with different new-age presentation tools like Prezi and Haiku Deck.)

Sway also diverges from Microsoft’s conventional strategy to growing instrument, especially place of job. instead of building many of the product and accumulating a bit of of private feedback ahead of launch, Microsoft asked users to get involved early on, giving them a somewhat minimal product and adding function requests over the preview duration.

The method is reflective of an organization that wishes people to really feel warmer and fuzzier about its products. Sway is unlikely to be the ultimate example of Microsoft working this way—despite the fact that it once in a while way telling people that they’re incorrect.

studying To Let Go

To coincide with normal availability, Microsoft is releasing a proper Sway app for home windows 10, joining current versions for iPhone, iPad, and the web. It’s additionally adding a bunch of new features in keeping with consumer feedback, some of which underscore the balance Microsoft must strike between making something new and appeasing PowerPoint converts.

as an example, Sway now includes a slideshow-like format, so customers can advance via one reveal at a time as a substitute of continuously scrolling. it is best for presentations, and has been certainly one of Sway’s most popular function requests (though Microsoft appears to go out of its method to avoid calling it a presentation mode).

Microsoft is also now webhosting Sways on docs.com, where customers can tie more than one Sways into better collections. A instructor, for instance, could use the site to publish a semester’s value of lecture subject matter, compensating for Sway’s lack of tangible document files that could be posted elsewhere. (As before, users may additionally hyperlink to their creations on Sway.com or embed them on different web pages.)

At what point does Sway draw the road, and declare a feature to be too PowerPoint-like? To Pratley, the power to work throughout totally different reveal sizes is sacred; Microsoft can be viewed gently disregarding ideas for pixel-degree adjustments on Sway’s feedback board.

“We form of need to remind them that, well if you did that, then what wouldn’t it do on a cellphone? Do you actually wish to do this? as a result of that’s going to be various work,” Pratley says. the purpose of Sway is not to fear about these high-quality-grained important points.

“once they understand, ‘Oh proper, I’m designing one thing that works throughout units, and the way I do that is by way of expressing my intent somewhat than all these pixel-stage sizes and so forth,’ they have got this eureka second,” Pratley says.

Having stated that, Pratley won’t rule out a that you can imagine Swayification—my time period, no longer his—of different place of job apps, akin to word, Excel, and even PowerPoint itself. other branches of the administrative center crew are at least intrigued by Sway’s outcomes. “it’s essential imagine a more or less magic wand device or one thing that claims, “supply me some options, the use of your smarts, of how this slide could appear better, that roughly factor,” he says. “however I don’t assume there’s the rest written in stone.”

A extra Approachable Microsoft

The closing time I spoke with Pratley, he talked about that Sway was once an scan in letting users dictate the route of a product. whereas he received’t come to any conclusions but, he now points to the home windows 10 Insider software for example of the company opening up more to outdoor suggestions.

“I in fact think it’s the new method that the whole thing new can be made, and we’re going to be adapting this to be the sort of agile method the place we react to comments for the whole thing else that already exists,” Pratley says.

It’s now not at all times simple, even with a software like Sway the place the workforce is ranging from scratch. “There’s so much stuff we need to do, and it might be tempting to simply kind of put our heads down and construct all the things which can be nonetheless to return in Sway,” Pratley says. “however the thing we truly must do is be affected person and listen to what people are asking and alter that pondering to adapt to them.”

Wes Miller, an analyst with guidelines on Microsoft, believes that on some level that is Microsoft’s attempt to make itself seem extra likable, particularly among students and younger users who see PowerPoint as a software for his or her parents. “When you feel that connection to one thing that you simply affect—like I wasn’t on the crew, but I helped make a distinction—it helps individuals feel attachment to the technology,” Miller says.

Sway particularly could use some early advocates. even supposing Microsoft gained’t divulge consumer numbers, it says Sways have racked up 5 million pageviews so far. evaluate that to eighty million downloads of office for iPhone and iPad, and it’s clear that Sway is in its infancy. (As for who’s the use of Sway, Microsoft notes particularly strong traction in training, among each college students and academics.)

in the interim, responding to the crowd might now not be as draining because it appears. “That’s almost a drug that retains me going in this job, is you simply preserve doing things that people are inquiring for,” Pratley says.

windows 10 is damaged down in this video from The twenty ninth floor:

[Photos: courtesy of Microsoft]

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