It's not a secret that PowerPoint presentations can be really, really dull. The last thing you want on a Friday afternoon is a bland slide deck and transitions from the 1990s, so Microsoft is trying to make things a lot less boring. In the coming weeks, Office 365 subscribers will get two new tools for PowerPoint that use the cloud to really make presentations look better, or feel more alive with some cool motion effects.
Microsoft is tackling the temptation to create boring slides by adding a new PowerPoint Designer feature. Like the name implies, Designer lets you create pretty slides really quickly. Microsoft has had a variety of themes in PowerPoint over the years, but Designer is different. Graphic designers have helped Microsoft develop 12,000 blueprints so that when you first insert an image into a slide deck it will offer up some unique ways to style your slides.
Designer uses Microsoft's cloud and machine learning to process your image and pick the right layout for your image. You'll have to agree to upload your images for processing, but it means you could use this option on different images and your presentation will always look different. Microsoft is also planning to add automatic color options in the future, to pick out the prominent colors from an image and adjust the slide style accordingly. Some of the many blueprints save a lot of time, meaning you don't have to crop images manually and apply effects, coloring, or change opacity.
Microsoft's second tool, Morph, creates slide animations effortlessly. Morph can animate text, images, and even 3D shapes. If you want some slides to animate then you just duplicate them and move the objects based on how you want them to animate. Morph is a new transition effect that will automatically figure out the animations you want and apply them. Some of the results are impressive for basic animations, and you could see how tutorials could benefit greatly from Morph.
Microsoft is planning to offer Designer and Morph exclusively to Office 365 subscribers using the full desktop version of PowerPoint or the new Windows 10 variant. Microsoft is taking a special approach with Office that means these feature will appear cross-platform, too. That means in the coming months these features will be available to other platforms like iOS and Android. These features are cloud-powered, which is an interesting hint at the future of how Office will evolve. Machine learning is an ongoing battle for companies like Microsoft and Google, and we're starting to see the results of how software is really leveraging powerful servers to create individual features.
Alongside these new tools, Microsoft is also launching an Office Insider program. Like the Windows Insiders effort, Office Insider will provide members early access to pre-release versions of Office 2016 for Windows. Microsoft is also planning to offer the same to Mac users with an Office Insider for Mac program launching soon. If you're interested in using the new Morph and Designer features of PowerPoint early then you can opt-in to the Office 365 First Release, and Microsoft also has a sign-up page for the new Office Insider program, too.