PowerPoint 2000 does the job for feds
By Richard W. Walker
PowerPoint 2000 from Microsoft Corp. has vaulted to the top of the charts in GCN's survey of presentation software, so it's a safe bet that most users are pleased as Office 2000'with which PowerPoint is bundled'is introduced in federal offices.
But PowerPoint 2000 users nonetheless had a few complaints. Nothing major; just a few quibbles.
The refrain goes something like this: 'It's a great program, but ' '
Most of the feds interviewed do not use a presentation program every day. They're occasional users, so they don't push the program to its limits. They just want to put together a nice-looking presentation without a lot of fuss.
Take Jack Kaufman, for instance. The Seattle-based Coast Guard engineering deputy uses PowerPoint 2000 about twice a week for projects such as presentations for meetings.
He finds the program does a perfectly good job. 'I can put together a presentation fast'a basic presentation, anyway,' he said.
|'For the limited amount of usage that I get into, it's good enough for me.'|
'Melvin Jackson, Air Force personnel systems manager in Portland, Ore., on Microsoft PowerPoint 97
|'Probably the only thing I don't like about [Corel Presentations] is that, for all the Microsoft people, I can't export to a Microsoft program. I can't give it to them in PowerPoint.'|
'Mike Laughon, Interior Department systems specialist
But he doesn't cotton to PowerPoint's help feature. 'That's the biggest issue I have,' he said. 'I just don't like the way they're doing help. It's not very intuitive.'
By contrast, he said, Microsoft PhotoDraw 2000, a new addition to the Office 2000 suite, is much better. 'The help in that is excellent,' he said.
Kaufman cited a similar problem using help in PowerPoint 97, 2000's predecessor, which tied for No. 2 in the survey with Corel Corp.'s Presentations 8. 'It was the same thing in 97,' he said. 'It could be just me. Maybe that particular program and I don't get along well.'
In Denver, Norman Pratt, an office automation specialist for the Federal Aviation Administration, also uses PowerPoint 2000 to build meeting presentations'about one project over the course of a month'having upgraded from PowerPoint 97.
'In reality, I think I like 97 better,' he said.Devilish change
For Pratt, the devil is in the details. Microsoft 'didn't really change it a whole lot. It's just that they changed some of the minor detail things that made it easy and nice to use,' he said.
For example, some of the spiffy features he liked in 97 have vanished in 2000. 'They've taken away some of the shortcut keys that used to be there,' he said. 'And some shortcut keys don't work exactly the way they used to, either. They don't do the exact same functions as the older ones.'
In the GCN survey, PowerPoint 97 maintained 75 percent of the installed base in the market canvassed, while PowerPoint 2000 has grabbed 6 percent. PowerPoint 97's predecessor, PowerPoint 7.0, retains 7 percent of the base.
Overall, Microsoft PowerPoint versions dominated the survey, being used by 89 percent of the respondents.
Versions of Corel Presentations had just a 7 percent slice.
Despite its slim market share, Corel Presentations has loyal users.
Mike Laughon, an Interior Department systems specialist, has been using versions of Presentations since it was introduced.
'I've kind of grown up with it,' he said.
His office has just upgraded to WordPerfect Office 2000 from Office 8, so Laughon is just becoming familiar with Presentations 9. How does it compare to the program he previously used, Presentations 8?
'We just upgraded recently, but when I have looked at it, it seems like pretty much the same thing,' he said. 'Maybe there are some bells and whistles in the background that I'm not familiar with, but nothing from the user standpoint seems to have changed that much.'
| Overall|| Ease of use|| Delivery of quality output in multiple forms|| Graphics and editing features|| Multiple table and charting formats|| Documentation and help|
| 80|| 83|| 92|| 100|| 100|| 74|
| 61|| 69|| 73|| 67|| 46|| 42|
| 61|| 75|| 75|| 75|| 50|| 38|
| 58|| 69|| 73|| 67|| 46|| 42|
|Templates|| Transitions and building effects|| Clip-art collection|| Wizards and coaches for quick formatting|| Video collection|| Audio collection|
| 92|| 82|| 75|| 83|| 50|| 46|
| 69|| 62|| 69|| 71|| 43|| 25|
| 63|| 75||88|| 75|| 43|| 14|
| 69|| 62|| 69|| 71|| 43|| 25|
The Government Computer News Product Preference Survey is designed to give federal buyers detailed quantitative data on specific computer and communications products, as rated by federal users.
The survey also measures the relative importance of product attributes in selection of those products.
This survey on presentation software was part of a questionnaire mailed to 4,000 federal readers of GCN who on their subscription application forms identified themselves as buyers and users of presentation software. We received 191 responses to this part of the questionnaire.
The presentation software in the survey was chosen because it represents the bulk of such products used in government. This report lists results only for those versions that received at least eight responses.
The overall rating for each product was developed by averaging all individual attribute scores.
Top scores are in red.