PowerPoint Alternatives

Question

Is there an inexpensive PowerPoint-type program I can buy for my new Windows XP computer?

- David

Answer

This question was answered on March 3, 2005. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Microsoft’s PowerPoint multimedia presentation program has become the de facto standard for making presentations on a computer With the ability to incorporate photos, movies, music or virtually any multimedia content into the presentations, it has livened up many meetings around the world.

Whether you are a business, church, educational facility, social organization or a retailer, you are likely using or have a need to use a program of this nature.

There are two distinct types of needs for these programs; to create and edit presentation and to view them.

For those that don’t have PowerPoint, Microsoft has made the viewing of PowerPoint presentations very easy and it’s free They provide a download known as the PowerPoint Viewer at their website (www.microsoft.com - search for PowerPoint Viewer).

Once installed, any PowerPoint presentations that you get in an e-mail or from a website, will run as a slideshow when you open them.

If you need to create and edit presentations and you don’t want to pay the roughly $200 for PowerPoint, there is a free alternative.

A product called Impress is part of a complete productivity package from OpenOffice.org (www.openoffice.org) and the entire package is free for anyone to download and use It also includes Writer (a word processor), Calc (a spreadsheet), Draw (for graphics and diagrams) and a Database (You can choose which ones you want to install.)

It can be run in Windows, Linux or the Mac OS and comes with various document converters that can attempt to convert any of the Microsoft standard file types into OpenOffice files (your results may vary).

This ‘open source’ software project was started in Germany in the mid 1980’s and later acquired by Sun Microsystems in 1999 and is designed to provide an alternative to Microsoft’s Office suites.

‘Open source’ refers to software that is created by a development community rather than a single company and is usually programmed by volunteers from around the world The ‘source code’, which is essentially the blueprint of the program, is available for any programmer to download and modify so that new features and modifications can be added over time.

Linux, an alternative operating system to Microsoft’s Windows, is the most famous of the open source projects.

When you choose to operate open source software, there are a few things that you must keep in mind.

The support for the product by other companies will be little to none, so don’t expect much help from third parties if you choose to use it.

This means that you must look to the open source community itself for help, instead of a traditional vendor Most products like OpenOffice or Linux that have been around for a while have enormous support groups and web-based resources to assist users.

Since the program is free, you can download and install it to see if it works for you If all of your presentations will be created and run by only you, then you shouldn’t run into any problems

If you want to publish or share your presentation with others, you will want to test the file conversions for your presentations to interface with PowerPoint or convince everyone else to use OpenOffice!

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on March 3, 2005