Microsoft’s Sway is the anti-Office, with no rigid separation of tasks among Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Instead, it lets you create live documents that give images, video and sound as much weight as words. And now you can try it for yourself, because Microsoft has released a public app for iOS, Windows 10, and the Web.
We originally described Sway as a sort of Microsoft Word for teens, but it also includes elements of PowerPoint and even Microsoft Photos. The main elements of a Sway—which can’t be printed out, only shared—are words and massive images, either aligned as what might be called hero art, or else piled together in an engaging virtual stack of photos. Videos, tweets and PDFs can be embedded, too. New pages can also slide in and out and expand using PowerPoint-like transitions.
Not surprisingly, words fail to describe Sway completely, so check out these images from a couple of Sway examples. A report on solar energy could have been pretty dry.
You can see in these screenshots, though, how the larger images and other layout elements help present the content better.
An even better example is the document songwriter Daria Musk created to illustrate her creative process. (Also see the image at the top of this article.)
She pulled together some words, but mostly evocative images, interspersed with sound clips and scenes from her studio sessions. It’s something that might have been an album insert and is now something she can share online.
Why this matters: Microsoft has had to reinvent itself for the demands of the modern Web, and also a customer base that’s moving away from dense, textual communication toward more visual expression. Sway addresses that, leaving Word for more traditional documents.
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As PCWorld's senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.