We can’t even remember the last time we saw someone under 30 fire up a PowerPoint instead of a Prezi when giving a talk. Microsoft hopes to put the kibosh on that with Microsoft Sway, its new presentation app. Sway lets you drag and drop photos, videos, files from your computer, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or cloud storage. It works via a Web browser or an app for your phone, and the presentation is stored on the Web.
Microsoft announced Sway in October and on Monday offered an update, giving preview invites to various journalists, including Business Insider. We played around a little with Sway and can confirm that it is remarkably easy to use. It has some nice features like “change my mood,” which lets you choose a new layout, background, and fonts. The “remix” button does that for you (a little like the “I feel lucky” button on Google).
We didn’t see anything in the demo that made us say, “Wow! No one’s ever done that before!” But first things first. Prezi says more than 50 million people use it, including 80 percent of the Fortune 500. That’s an awful lot of people who have had their heads turned from PowerPoint. Microsoft needs an easy-to-use alternative to Prezi, and Sway fits that bill.
Here’s a demo from Microsoft’s video. Notice this Microsoft ad shows the guy using Sway on an iPad.
But perhaps the most impressive thing about Sway is that it’s part of an bunch of new apps developed under CEO Satya Nadella’s new mission: to "reinvent productivity."
- Skype Translator, a service launched earlier this month that will translate a Skype conversation between two languages in real time.
- Delve, an Office 365 tool that rolled out in September that is supposed to find all the important stuff buried in your documents, calendars, and contacts.
- Power Q&A, an add-on cloud service for Office 365 customers.
- And Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Siri, available in the current version of Windows Phone and, sources say, later as a desktop app in Windows 10.
And here’s an example of a Sway presentation.
See also: Microsoft Office Is Now on iPhone