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Now Showing: PowerPoint Gets a Comparison Tool

 Workshare Compare for PowerPoint
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Source: Workshare
Workshare has introduced software that gives Microsoft Office PowerPoint users several new capabilities, helping users manage different versions of presentations.

The new Workshare Compare for PowerPoint lets users track and manage edits made to PowerPoint decks by other team members, reviewers or outside editors, or just within various versions of the same presentation made by an individual.

Microsoft's ubiquitous PowerPoint has been around for 25 years and, by some estimates, is used to create 30 million presentations a day. PowerPoint has some ability to track changes, but Workshare said it's taking that to a whole new level.

The product follows earlier Workshare document-comparison solutions for Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat PDF files.

Workshare has established a niche in legal and other markets, and product manager Kevin Dockerty said he expects those same markets, as well as new ones, to be interested in Workshare Compare for PowerPoint.

"We have strong integration to Microsoft Office," he said.

Workshare said the product can compare text, images, notes, links or anything that can be edited during a collaborative review cycle.

A Reports feature shows all the changes made to a presentation that could prove useful both in tracking the editing process and for compliance.

The program uses color coding and graphics to highlight changes between slides, which are shown side-by-side in miniature next to the original as you scroll through a given presentation. You can also specify views like looking only at changes made to text.

The software is available as a 14-day free trial and costs $145 on an annual license basis or less under a volume license plan.

Rick Altman, who hosts the annual Presentations Summit and also authored the book "Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck", thinks Workshare is on the right track.

"PowerPoint needs this kind of stuff," he told InternetNews.com. "They are filling a need that exists and users at our conference [where Workshare was recently previewed] are rooting for them to succeed."

That said, Altman would like to see the company go deeper in support of non-text elements like animation and do more with images. PowerPoint presentations often fail, he said, because they are too text-heavy.

"More and more, we're seeing people integrate photos to reduce the amount of text on their slides, which is a good thing -- but that's something Workshare doesn't really address," said Altman. "I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with the next version because they've heard what we've said and I think they're going to evolve the product to be even more useful."