Microsoft upgrades its Office for Mac upgrade offer

Correction 2:10 p.m. PDT: This blog initially misstated the savings for buyers of Office 2004 for Mac Student and Teacher edition if they choose to upgrade to the 2008 Special Media Edition. The savings would be $350.

Microsoft has improved on an earlier offer to those who buy Office 2004 for Mac before the new version of Office is released in January.

In September, the company said it would offer buyers of Office 2004 an upgrade to the comparable version of Office 2008 for the cost of shipping and handling.

Now, those who purchase Office 2004 for Mac … Read more

Mac Office 2008 adds Excel templates, supports Exchange

Microsoft is revealing more details about new features in its Office for Mac 2008 suite, due for a release early next year.

Excel 2008 for Mac will offer worksheet templates with baked-in calculations designed to make it easier to balance household finances, manage inventory and other common tasks. The new Ledger Sheets features will include a gallery of elements, shifting formulas to the background.

In addition, the Entourage e-mail client will offer more support for Microsoft Exchange, which traditionally has enabled non-Mac PC users to make appointments and share notes and files with each other.

Each version of Office for … Read more

Beyond Microsoft Office: We compare 9 productivity suites

Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and their Office allies can be great applications, but not everybody needs everything they offer. How do you know where to start when shopping for alternative software? You'll save money with a different brand, but will it do the trick? Should you buy boxed software, download freebies for your hard drive, access browser-based apps, or juggle all of the above?

We've reviewed nine productivity suites--including downloads and online services--and cooked up a jumbo chart mixing up their gumbo of features and file formats. IBM's release of Lotus Symphony beta added more spice to … Read more

Make flashy, yet simple presentations with Prezentit

Bored of Google Presentations already? If you're looking for something with a little more pizazz, there's Prezentit, a Web-based presentation maker. Like Google, Vyew, and others, Prezentit lets you build, and work on a presentation with several collaborators at once, all in your browser. You can send out the finished product as a URL, or even download it in the form of an HTML file that will run on any computer with a browser installed. These are handy features, but how does it stack up on features? The answer, unfortunately, is not well.

As far as presentation makers go, Prezentit is pretty bare-bones. You can only add text and images, and there are no slide templates like you'll find on PowerPoint. To add content, you can upload image files from your hard drive, which get stored in a free storage locker that holds up to 250MB. There's also a gallery of background art, although you're limited to less than 20 sample shots. Unfortunately, there's also no way to upload a PowerPoint file and have it convert to the editor, which is where these services can be incredibly useful, especially for creating a highly searchable index.

So what sets Prezentit apart from the pack? Despite its lack of features, its interface is wonderfully easy to use. If you're familiar with Microsoft Office 2007's "Ribbon" UI, the idea isn't too far off. There's also a slew of genuinely good-looking transitions, many of which are smooth, and low on the cheese factor (read: there are no glitter graphics or explosions.) While there's no built-in chat client, there are hosting pages for each presentation that double as a place to let others add their two cents about what could be better. The service is also adding an "explore" section soon for publicly shared presentations.

I wouldn't recommend using Prezentit over some of the other Web-based presentations out there simply due to a dearth of features I think are pretty essential to a good presentation app, but the service is young, and there's definitely room for growth. We've got more screenshots after the break.… Read more

Google Presentations gets the green light

Google announced the launch on Monday night of its long-awaited, Web-based competitor to PowerPoint.

Google Presentations, which is free, is part of the company's online office suite, Google Docs.

Right off the bat, you will notice that Presentations has some of the same basic functionality as Microsoft's PowerPoint. It does enable you to create some really basic presentations, with themes, but the lack of features and slide show polish are real turn-offs for me.

Yes, there are nice collaboration features, just like the other Google Docs applications, but if the final product isn't on par with what … Read more

Rumor that just won't die: Google Presentations 'any day now'

Despite many signs pointing to a release of Google's presentation service at last week's Office 2.0 Conference (coverage), the only thing we got were some new tweaks to Docs and Spreadsheets that went largely under the radar. This morning, The Inquirer is claiming that things are stirring in the depths of Google's Mountain View headquarters, and the app is set to launch "any day now." They're also claiming that the app will be integrating technology from both of Google's slide show and presentation acquisitions Tonic Systems and Zenter, which the company bought … Read more

PowerPoint presentations speak with SlideShare

SlideShare, which lets you share PowerPoint presentations with the world, today added the capability to match audio tracks to slide shows. This is a cool feature that podcasters could exploit to show and tell a story at the same time. Professors, marketers, and other storytellers might give this free tool a whirl to provide remote access to their work instead of using software such as Adobe Captivate or TechSmith Camtasia. You could even use Slideshare to narrate a PowerPoint-based photo gallery of your vacation. Come to think of it, why don't more photo-sharing sites follow Zooomr's lead (more here) … Read more

Google acquires Zenter, online slideshow tool

Google has just announced its acquisition of Zenter, a small company that makes software for creating online slideshows--a much rumored, and fully confirmed product Google's CEO Eric Schmidt officially announced a few months ago at the Web 2.0 Expo.

Zenter joins Tonic Systems, another presentation-creation service Google picked up back in April.

Zenter first unveiled its service in mid-March and has since stayed fairly quiet. The service lets users import Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, as well as grab bits of content from all over the Web for making presentations that can be viewed and shared in the Web browser. … Read more

For new Sanyo projector, short is better

In our remote-driven society, distance is often considered a good thing. The farther away a gadget can work, the better.

So in this sense, a new projector from Sanyo is somewhat counter-intuitive: Its biggest selling point is how close it can be positioned to the image it's projecting. The LP-XL40 has an "ultra-short-focus lens" that can project the equivalent of an 80-inch screen from just 3.15 inches away, according to Akihabara News.

Why is this a good thing? Think about all the tight spots where it can work--such as mounted on a wall directly above the … Read more

Google's PowerPoint viewer goes live

Gmail users who get Microsoft PowerPoint attachments in their in-boxes can now view them without having PowerPoint installed on their machines. Google appears to have flipped the switch to allow this feature as of last night. We originally reported on this last month, although at that time it appeared that only a handful of accounts had access. This option now shows up on all accounts.

Also, somewhat related: today is the unofficial "Day without Google," a challenge that asks people to try doing their searches on alternate search engines outside of the "Big 5" which includes … Read more