Microsoft PowerPoint

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What Does Microsoft PowerPoint Mean?

Microsoft PowerPoint is a powerful presentation software developed by Microsoft. It is a standard component of the company's Microsoft Office suite software, and is bundled together with Word, Excel and other Office productivity tools.


The program uses slides to convey information rich in multimedia and is used to create complex business presentations, simple educational outlines and much more.

Techopedia Explains Microsoft PowerPoint

PowerPoint was developed by Dennis Austin and Thomas Rudkin at Forethought Inc. It was supposed to be named Presenter, but the name was not adapted due to trademark issues. It was renamed PowerPoint in 1987 as suggested by Robert Gaskins.

In August of 1987, Microsoft bought Forethought for $14 million and turned it into its graphics business unit, where the company continued to develop the software. The first iteration was launched together with Windows 3.0 in 1990. It only allowed slide progression in one direction – forward – and the amount of customization was fairly limited.

Although it was conceived only for Macintosh computers in the very beginning, PowerPoint quickly became one of the most iconic trademarks and the first important acquisition of Microsoft. Even today, it holds up to 95 percent of the market share of presentation software.

PowerPoint allows users to create media-rich presentations constituted by a series of slides. Since it’s fully integrated with the other tools of the Microsoft Office suite, the user can import content created with Excel or Word into PowerPoint, as well as other media such as pictures, audio, and video clips.

To create slides, a series of templates are used to provide the user with pre-defined layouts for different purposes. Once the theme that will be used in the presentation is set by defining a standard font, background color, and layout, that slide is saved as “master slide.” The user can either change each other slide accordingly, or edit the master slide to propagate the change to all the other slides uniformly.

During a PowerPoint presentation, the presenter has the liberty to define the pace by controlling the flow manually or having the slide swap at preset intervals, which may also be different for each slide. Individual elements on a slide may also appear after a certain command is issued, such as bullet points or videos.

PowerPoint experienced a very significant change in PowerPoint 97, which added predefined transition effects and allowed the user to time them appropriately so that slides would transition automatically. This allowed a presenter to follow a predefined progression and go on with the presentation without pausing to change or read the slides. PowerPoint 2007 introduced the "ribbon" interface, marking a drastic change from the previous interface style.

In older versions of PowerPoint, presentations were saved only as a standard .pptx format. However, newer versions from 2013 and 2016 allow the users to save presentations in different common formats such as pictures (JPEG, GIF, PNG, etc.), videos (WMV or MPEG-4), or text (PDF).


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.