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Dissecting Microsoft Office 2010

To use it, create your presentation as you would normally, then select Broadcast Slide Show from the Slide Show Ribbon menu. PowerPoint then uses Microsoft's free PowerPoint Broadcast Service to let you play your presentation over the Web. A Web link is created that you can send to one or many recipients, who can then watch the presentation by going to the URL. You can also send out invitations to the broadcast from within PowerPoint. There's no planning required, no scheduling and no cost -- it's all free.

PowerPoint's new video-editing tools are geared for common tasks.
You don't get audio and you don't get any kind of instant messaging with this feature. But I've been in countless Web conferences, and I can't recall a single one in the last year in which anyone used instant messaging. And at every one of them, I had to use a phone line for audio. So for most presentations, those features won't be missed. I expect this feature to make the number of presentations given over the Web skyrocket. (Click image to enlarge)

The other big news for PowerPoint is its entrance into the video age. PowerPoint 2007 had fairly rudimentary video capabilities; in 2010 that's changed dramatically. You won't use PowerPoint's new video-editing tools for professional-level editing -- they're geared for the most common tasks people perform when working with videos, such as trimming, compressing, adding fade-ins and fade-outs, correcting for color and contrast, and similar tasks.

You're also given control over the visual appearance of the frame in which the video appears, how long the video should last and more. To use the tools, you first embed a video in a presentation, then highlight it -- the new tools appear on the Ribbon.

PowerPoint also makes it easy to embed videos from YouTube or other Web sites. Once you have the code for embedding the video (on YouTube, for example, if you click the Embed button you'll see all the code), paste the code into PowerPoint, and the video should play as part of your presentation.

You may need to do some tweaking to get this feature to work properly. I couldn't get a YouTube video to play in PowerPoint until I took out the part of the code that determined the video's size on the screen, then PowerPoint played it without a hitch.

PowerPoint adds tools not just for adding and editing videos, but for playing them during your presentation as well. You can now pause, rewind, fast-forward and so on.

This new version of PowerPoint also adds some nice new animations. They're more easily accessible, and there are more of them. Editing them is simpler using a custom animation feature. One of my favorite features is the Animation Painter, which will apply any animation across multiple slides without requiring the user to add the animation to each slide individually.

Also, as is the case with Word, you can add screenshots to presentations with the new screenshot tool. And there are some other nice additions, such as new slide transitions and additional SmartArt graphics and themes.

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