So I will: Microsoft Sway is a PowerPoint killer.
Today, Sway goes into general availability, meaning that users of Office 365 in business and education can get it. Plus, Microsoft is releasing the official Sway app for Windows 10, alongside an update to all versions of the tool. And it’s still free for consumers.
Technically, you’ve been able to get Sway since last October when a preview version came out.
At the time, Business Insider said that “Sway lets you drag and drop photos, videos, files from your computer, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or cloud storage. It works via a web browser or an app for your phone, and the presentation is stored on the web.”
The basic idea behind Sway is very cool: Just write your text and drop in your images for your presentation and it makes sure it looks good on any device, regardless of the screen size.
It’s easier to show than to tell, so check out a demo Sway presentation provided by Microsoft. For bonus points, look at it on a few different devices:
Designate which parts of the text are important (like section headers), and which photos should go together (like diagrams of a molecule expanding), and Sway does complicated wizardry behind the scenes to make sure it looks good on any tablet, phone, desktop PC, or whatever, without your having to do anything special to the content.
It’s all about intent, says Microsoft’s David Alexander. Most creation tools are “what you see is what you get,” but this is “what you get is what you wanted.”
You can also embed content from places like YouTube, Soundcloud, or many other sources, directly within Sway, and make it part of your presentation. There are neat stylistic touches to Sway, too, like helping you pick an accent colour for your presentation that complements the colour scheme of the images you used.
Here’s another example Sway with a musician explaining her process:
Multiple users can work on a Sway, and you can share it with a link. Generally speaking, the sharing seems to work a lot like Google Drive.
Microsoft insists that Sway isn’t a replacement for PowerPoint, because there will always be room in the traditional enterprise for the same old slide decks, with fixed borders and corporate styles.
But a key feature that’s part of today’s update is one that gives presenters more control over the timing of their Sway presentations.
And if you look at that demo, it’s so much better and more visually interesting than the much-maligned PowerPoint that it seems inevitable that even the stodgiest corporate user will start to see the charms of Sway. Plus, it provides a good alternative to Prezi, a web-based presentation tool popular amongst the younger set.
Sway is available today from Sway.com, for iPhone and iPad, and for Windows 10. If you have Office 365 for business or work, you should be able to get it via Microsoft.