Comparison of the PowerPoint Web App and PowerPoint 2010

By Ken Withee, Jennifer Reed

The PowerPoint Web App is designed to be a companion to its desktop cousin, PowerPoint 2010. It allows users to collaborate on files and make light edits to a presentation right on the browser regardless of the user’s platform (Windows PC or Mac).

As long as the minimum system requirements are met and a supported browser is used, you can expect to perform most of the basic PowerPoint tasks on the web app that you do on the desktop version.

Due to technological constraints, and because by design PowerPoint Web App is a companion and not necessarily a replacement for the desktop version, there are features in the desktop application that are not available in the web app version as follows:

  • Macros: Macro-enabled documents created in PowerPoint 2010 can be viewed in the web app but the macros will not run. Also, you can’t edit a macro-enabled document in the web app.

  • Printing: Printing directly from the PowerPoint Web App in Office 365 is not enabled. If you are using Windows Live Sky Drive, however, you can print PowerPoint slides by using a .pdf reader.

  • Coauthoring: You cannot coauthor in the web app through the browser as you would in the desktop application. For example, if you have two users working on the same file on their desktop applications, both users can see each other’s changes but not in the web app.

  • Buttons and Commands: The Ribbon in the web app has the same look and feel as the desktop application but with fewer buttons and options. In the Editing View, for example, only a limited number of fonts and formatting options are available. Fortunately, the fonts display in full what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) glory, albeit with a very short lag.

    Familiar right-click commands in the desktop application are nonexistent in the web app. It’s funny, because the web app display is so similar to the desktop app that you might end up right-clicking the slides to change the slide layout when working on the web app, only to be reminded that feature is not there! The same thing goes for formatting text or graphics with your right mouse button.

  • Navigation: In PowerPoint Web App, the Previous and Next slide buttons are displayed in the middle of the status bar. In the desktop application, they are displayed on the bottom right in the Reading View.

  • Smart Art: Be aware that in the web app, options of Smart Art are limited. You do not get an array of graphics to choose from that are grouped by type as you do in the desktop version.

  • Design Templates: You cannot apply a design template nor create one in the PowerPoint Web App. Adding or inserting transitions, animations, tables, audio, video, and symbols are some features that are missing in the web app version. As Office 365 web apps continue to evolve, some or all of these features will become available in the future.