Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

PowerPoint And iPad Get Even Friendlier

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 by Justine<

It’s been a few months now since PowerPoint and iPad got together after one of the longest ‘will they, won’t they?’ debacles that business presenters have ever had to endure.

After such a convoluted build up expectations were high but our initial excitement was tempered with a fair degree of disappointment. Our resident übergeek Matt Roper ran the whole thing through its paces and his review identified some annoying omissions.

Matt lamented the loss of functionality in several areas and it’s almost as if someone, somewhere was listening….

The Office for iPad 1.1 update includes some great stuff that iPad users everywhere will be really pleased to see and behind the headline about exporting to PDF there are some great presenter tools too.

The ability to play videos in PowerPoint was a particular sticking point and that issue has now been addressed (much to Matt’s relief).

The custom show issue may still be an area for concern although the news on hyperlink updates gives us a little ray of hope that everything is moving in the right direction.

Also a word of caution – while viewing a PowerPoint presentation on an iPad is now a viable (if occasionally frustrating) option; creating one is still a pipedream.

While the reasons for this are, I’m sure, deeply technical and devilishly complex, I’ll leave you with Matt’s words of wisdom on the subject “creating and designing a PPT on an iPad – that would be silly!”

Fortunately the team here at Eyeful have a number of tricks and tips up their sleeves to make sure that our customers can use their presentations in whatever format suits them , and their audience, the best – simply contact us to find out more.

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PowerPoint for iPad – The Übergeek Review

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 by Matt<

A wise man (I think he was wise anyway) once said the problem with the iPad is that Apple made a big iPhone rather than a small Mac. Unfortunately I think he was right.

Now I’m a PC man, I don’t own a MAC and quite frankly if you put me in front of one I’d have trouble finding the on button. But I am Apple gadget mad, I have an iPod Touch, iPhone 5 and an iPad 4 – so I know my around these devices pretty damn well. I like to explore new quirky useful apps, for example I recently turned my iPad into a touchpad remote control mouse and keyboard for my Laptop which was connected to my home TV. So I think I qualify as something of a geek.

When I heard PowerPoint for iPad was going to be released, I should have been jumping for joy and chomping at the bit to get my hands on it and have a play.

But – I’ve been here before. With this app or that app claiming to be the one to truly put an Eyeful designed PowerPoint in all its glory on the iPad only to fail time after time. The closest we’ve got is through some software called iSpring. And by close I mean 96% (my official guesstimate!) to the user experience being truly replicated on the iPad to the level it is on a PC.

Then a couple of days ago, I finally got my hands on the official Microsoft PowerPoint for iPad app and, well, it’s not all bad, but it’s not all great either!

Let’s start at the beginning.

You have just received your lovingly created PowerPoint Presentation from Eyeful, it’s all there, the message is strong, design is sleek and the animation artfully carries your story through to its conclusion…

And there you are, with a piece of collateral ready for a formal one-to-many presentation. But as we’ve preached many times, that same collateral can be reutilised and used on mobile devices. Cue the calls to put the deck on the iPads ready for next week’s marketing event.

And why not? An interactive presentation on a booth at an event, is a great way for interested people to have a play and find out what your business is all about.

An iPad is a also a powerful informal sales tool for when you step into that 1-2-1 pitch meeting and really need to get across why you are the BEST!

So, surely whacking the PowerPoint file onto the iPad is easy right? WRONG!

It’s a right palaver, but it’s getting better. And due credit to Microsoft for finally getting this app released. Well as much credit as you can give someone for turning up to the party 4 years after it started!!

You have three options to get the file onto the iPad. Firstly, the easiest and simplest method is OneDrive – Microsoft’s free cloud based hard drive. Simply drop the file onto your OneDrive account on your PC and a few minutes later it will be available to download onto your iPad, assuming you have the OneDrive app installed on your iPad. Filesize and internet speed will determine how long this process takes.

Second up and also pretty simple is via email, simply email the file to yourself. The usual file size restrictions apply. So this would rule out a lot of the presentations we create.

And finally, the most convoluted, but possibly quickest solution if your file is pretty beefy is via USB cable and some third party software called File App, which is a bit fiddly at first, but is a really useful piece of software for exploring the inner workings of your iPad.

So, one way or another you now have your Eyeful presentation on your iPad. So far so good, but how does it playback?

This is usually where the apps have fallen down over the years. In the past there have been text spilling everywhere, shapes and images suddenly in the wrong place and a lack of animation that simply put, you may as well have just converted it to PDF and not bothered.

Well, I put the app through its paces with a lovely presentation we designed that features a host of features including great design and use of images, demanding slick animation, custom shows, hyperlinks to external websites and embedded video.

And I was pleasantly surprised on hitting play, as the presentation sprang into life in a smooth and sophisticated way, the animation played smoothly, no glitches were obvious and it all felt pretty solid. A simple swipe took me through the first slides and it was like viewing a PowerPoint on a PC – it was working!!!

But then, the first fail, an embedded video sat static and no amount of tapping, pressing and holding or shaking of the iPad would get it to play. GUTTED. It was all going so well.

Then onto a slide with custom show hyperlinks which gave me the option to view some hidden slides – which failed. The custom show links were deader than VHS technology…

I skipped on through the rest of the presentation and to the apps credit the only problems I saw were the two noted above, they were pretty big problems though.

But if, like the majority of Eyefuls presentations, yours doesn’t contain custom shows or videos then this is a pretty robust solution for playing presentations on iPads. And there is some further good news, the app does support hyperlinking from slide to slide and hyperlinking to external websites…

So the custom show route can be worked around. And so long as you don’t mind requiring a live internet connection, then the videos could be hosted online and streamed outside of the presentation. Get stuck in slow internet area though and expect the video to buffer.

Speaking of internet connections, further good news… when you initially add the presentation file to the iPad it stays on the hard drive of the device, meaning you don’t need to be connected to the internet for playback. An absolutely critical box ticked.

So, all in all, it’s not a perfect iPad  solution – but there is enough capability there to make the PowerPoint for iPad app a viable presentation playback solution.

In terms of editing and creation, the word fiddly doesn’t come close. Whilst a lot of functionality is there, a lot isn’t. Making it pretty pointless in an age where your sole piece of hardware isn’t going to be an iPad.  It’s far easier to create and edit on a proper PC or Mac.

The most I would be comfortable doing would be tweaking textboxes and changing colours of objects. Changing images without breaking animation sequences isn’t an option. In fact adding or amending animation in the app isn’t supported. Strangely enough though, if animation is already present (having been added during creation on PC) then this displays perfectly. Good, but strange!

And there you go the PowerPoint for iPad app is finally here. Right now it’s not perfect and it did turn up 4 years late. So all in all, depending on the project it could be the perfect iPad solution. But without video, custom shows and animation it just feels like it’s only part of the PowerPoint package. So, all things considered, this Übergeek scores it 6/10, Microsoft must try harder.

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Office for iPad est arrivé

Friday, March 28th, 2014 by Justine<

You may like to sit down for this one.

After four years of turmoil and less than ten days after our last hopeful speculation about rumour becoming reality, it’s actually happened…. Take a deep breath everyone – Office for iPad exists!

PowerPoint and iPad have finally said “I do” and we couldn’t be more excited.

For those of us who are passionate about presentations and get a little giddy about gadgets the world just became a better place.

Tempting as it is to wax lyrical about how much of an impact this will have on business presentations and what it means for effective communications in the ever changing presentation landscape, I’m going to cut this one short.

You could spend the next few minutes sharing my excitement or reading what the tech experts have to say, but the best thing you can do right now is get downloading.

PS Now the hardware/software challenge has been sorted, it might well be time to give a little thought to the presentations themselves and we’re just the people who can help!

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Office for iPad – The Truth is Out There

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 by Justine<

Some rumours refuse to die. For example it is estimated that 7% of Americans believe that Elvis is still alive (although there is some dissension over whether he’s flipping burgers in Illinois or working undercover for the DEA). People travel around the globe in the hope of seeing paddling plesiosaurs or huge bipedal apes and I’m pretty sure that any facility that may (or may not) exist for the storage of aliens and their spacecraft must be pretty close to bursting point by now.

But as easy as it is to dismiss, or indeed subscribe to, any of these things, there’s a similar mystery that’s been bugging the presentation world for a while now, PowerPoint for iPad.

We’ve avidly followed the – will they/won’t they – can they/can’t they – it’s coming/it’s not coming rollercoaster for longer than we care to remember.

We began our voyage into this particularly murky topic full of hope that Apple and Microsoft could come together to help business presenters get the job done. We’ve looked at this conundrum from all directions, in hopeful times we’ve prodded the professionals for answers, and sought sanctuary in cloud computing . On a more practical level we’ve joined forces with others who stopped waiting and started making it work anyway and (in some particularly churlish moments) we’ve wondered whether it would all be worth the bother anyway. It’s nearly a year since Office for iPhone was launched and the hope that generated for an iPad version has long since faded.

But, like the most ardent Elvis enthusiast or committed crytozoologist, our thirst for snippets of gossip and desperation for every whispered possibility to bring hard evidence that our dream might become a reality, never really waned.

And this week the rumblings have begun again. Yesterday’s ABC Tech Bytes stuck in a sneaky reference between discussing the new 8gb iPhone 5c and the Hubble space telescope (both of which do actually exist if that’s any sort of barometer).  The stock market also seems to think there may be something of substance on the horizon with Microsoft shares reaching their highest level since 2000, but whether that ‘thing’ is Office for iPad remains to be seen. Some commentators have even stuck their necks out and given it a birthday – March 27th.

But what do Apple and Microsoft have to say about it? – not a word (pun intended).

So, here we are again teetering on the verge, of the possibility, of something we’re very eager to find out the truth about, and hopefully by the end of this month we’ll know whether it’s the real thing or just another short order cook who can hold a tune.

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Will Windows XP Ever Rest In Peace?

Thursday, March 6th, 2014 by Justine<

Over the years many things have faded from our lives. Some were the victims of progress while others seem to have been abandoned by their creators without a thought for those that may have loved them.

For those of us who look back to the days spent trying to press ‘play’ and ‘record’ simultaneously in the nano second between the DJ finishing his intro and the song starting, it’s a whole new world.

It’s a world that exists without Cabana bars, Pacer mints and Woolworth’s pic ‘n’ mix and soon it will be one that exists without Windows XP.

While many of us resist change until it is unavoidable, we generally accept the benefits when it comes to tech, an iPod is so much more user friendly than a boom box and using the phone and the computer at the same time is just brilliant.

But the world is a much smaller and more complex place than it ever was and killing an operating system is not as easy as halting production. Operating systems, it seems, have to be consigned to sort of starve to death with no medical support in a kind of technological long term euthanasia programme that may well come with some nasty surprises.

XP’s protracted death will begin on April 8th when Microsoft formally cease to create bug fixes and security patches leaving the system open to attack by ever inventive hackers. Not only that but it’s similarities to Windows 7 will even help them find the weak spots – next time a Windows 7 ‘fix’ hits the airways it will probably point them directly to a very similar and unfixed issue in XP.

It is estimated that XP is (as I type) still being used by over 28% of the desktop operating system market and although this is expected to drop in the run up April 8th, it’s likely that about 14% will still be using XP when Microsoft turn off its life support.

Most of those still using XP are believed to fall into two categories: those in fast growing economies where pirated versions are popular and business users (with particular reference to SME’s). Microsoft has been proactive in encouraging users to upgrade but for these two groups it’s not an easy sell.

One expert estimated in 2007 that 25-35% of Windows XP systems were pirated (a number which is more likely to have risen than fallen). Pirated software is a grey area but I’m going to take a guess that Microsoft probably share an opinion occasionally mooted (and largely denied) by designer brands. A person who acquires a fake handbag is rarely a person that could afford a real one, but one day they might (and we know they like ours), in the interim they’re reinforcing the idea that our brand is aspirational and acting as a walking advert for our products.

If Microsoft can somehow communicate with those people and offer some sort of amnesty then they will create lifelong customers and in fast growing economies that’s potentially a huge share of an emerging market that they would be churlish to ignore.

But let’s be honest the vagaries of such clandestine manoeuvres aren’t really our thing, so let’s move to more comfortable ground and look at how this whole thing might affect businesses.

Even for the smallest businesses upgrading an operating system involves work and expenditure that they would usually rather avoid and in a large multi-national it will probably involve (at the very least) committees, strategies and implementation plans before it even reaches the front line keyboard tappers.

It’s also worth remembering here that not so long ago the whole world got in a blue funk about Y2K, some believed that the ‘Millennium Bug’ would bring an end to modern living (something that could apparently be offset by hoarding huge amounts of toilet paper if I remember rightly) but the whole thing turned out to be the dampest squib that ever failed to explode.

So as XP goes into terminal decline, there are two key questions that need to be answered:

Is it necessary for those still running XP to take action? Yes

Will bulk buying toilet paper help? No*

What will help businesses everywhere is getting their arses in gear now. Experts predict that XP will probably stay safe until June or July, so there’s not much time – but there is enough to avoid headless chicken syndrome.

As we’ve seen before catalysts for change come in all shapes and sizes and often (once the initial frenzy has subsided) can result in unexpected gains or improvements.  And while resorting to some flowery adage about ‘challenges becoming opportunities’ isn’t really the Eyeful way, we’re going to have to risk it on this one.

A quick trawl of the ethersphere brings up some great tips and advice, Microsoft themselves have partnered with Laplink to provide a free data migration tool and even the scaremongers are keeping their rants at a level of ‘actually plausible’ – so far.

We all know that every business should have a robust (and regular) system for file backup and that there should be very little stuff lying unfiled on desktops, but we also know that we should exercise regularly, eat less chocolate and say no to that extra glass of wine. This is the real world where customer demands outweigh good intentions and one deadline can easily defer another.

No business, large or small, can say that they’ve never been spooked by a deadline, unprepared for a meeting or wasted valuable time searching for that one bit of collateral that will win the business, all situations that we explored in our recent (spectacularly informative and completely free) Sales Enablement Whitepaper.

Bearing all this in mind it’s probably best to embrace a little chaos provided you can identify and maximise the long term benefits. Changing operating systems is the perfect time for a spot of cyber stocktaking. There’s little point going to the trouble of upgrading your system if the information it contains remains outdated or untraceable. Collateral you’ve had for a few years could well be due a review and ghosts of lost business can be tackled head on and either converted or laid to rest with the peace and quiet they deserve.

And if, on the off chance, you happen to stumble across a presentation that needs a little TLC, just pick up the phone and we’ll be happy to help you out.

*For all those businesses that have already made the change and have been feeling a little self-righteous so far, I’d like to throw in an extra factoid that might make you pause for thought. Aside from its continuing presence in the areas we’ve discussed, XP is thought to be the operating system that runs approximately 95% of the world’s cash machines – so it’s just possible that the toilet paper thing isn’t such a silly idea after all….

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Samsung Galaxy Pro – Pretender or Contender?

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014 by Justine<

Samsung has leapt head first into the on-going tablet wars with the launch of its new Galaxy Pro tablet range. Rumours have been circulating for a while but the official launch at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas yesterday brings a new contender to the tablet landscape.

So far there have been two main choices for would be tablet owners, the iPad and the Surface.  Regular readers will know that we’ve investigated the faults and merits of each on several occasions and tried in vain to negotiate a productive peace between the two camps.

Obviously our coverage so far has been somewhat coloured by what we want from a tablet – we readily admit to a certain business/presentation bias  – but we don’t think we’re alone in wanting functionality, connectivity and accessibility (and if it can throw in some stunning looks as well, then all the better).

Samsung have chosen to pitch their tent right on the frontline of the Apple versus Microsoft’s stand off and if early reviews are anything to go by we’re in for some really interesting times.

Galaxy Pro is armed to take on both sides and is pulling no punches, pricing has not yet been released but we know that’s an area where Samsung can kick a little butt. The Spec is right up there too – Samsung have obviously done their homework and rather than sidestep the competition by inventing themselves a niche they’re charging full speed into what other competitors seem to consider hallowed ground.

This is no imitator or pretender to the throne so if Apple and Microsoft are listening, now might be a good time to kiss and make up, because it looks like it might need the best of both of you to take this one on….

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Microsoft ReSurfaces

Thursday, September 26th, 2013 by Justine<

Tablet computing has been one of the most exciting recent revolutions in business technology. As soon as the idea of a compact, touch screen device was mooted presenters everywhere began to get excited and we’re not ashamed to say that we were amongst them.

The iPad is undoubtedly gorgeous and the interface is sublime but we’ve always been frustrated by its limited functionality when it come to business in general and presentations in particular. We’ve worked hard to make sure that our customers can get the best from their iPads but we can’t escape the feeling that it has consistently failed to fulfil its early promise. It’s almost as if Apple’s baby has a first class degree in business studies and takes cool to a new level but can’t progress from stacking the beans in Tesco.

When Microsoft first started talking about the Surface we hoped that salvation was on the horizon. Most businesses use Microsoft’s ubiquitous Office software and we dared to dream of a tablet that gave business users everything they needed in one place.

If we’re honest we weren’t disappointed, we got our USB port, full use of the software we love and a dinky keyboard attachment too. 11 months on and the Surface has failed to make the impact (or profit) that was hoped. Microsoft’s baby has a first class degree and a great job in the city but alas, it also seems to have become the oddball geek in the corner that everyone’s a bit unsure of.

Microsoft has stood their ground, they know that their product has great potential and they’ve not been shy in forcing direct comparisons. The video below is a great example of this, but unfortunately they’ve missed the point. People buy an iPad because they want an iPad, not because they need one.

Which brings us to Surface 2. Launched this week, the Surface 2 is much improved, it has better screen resolution, a two position kick stand, longer battery life, new accessories and is both lighter and thinner. It’s all great stuff and means that this iteration is a real improvement on the original and for those that buy tech with their heads it’s a real contender.

Unfortunately when it comes to a big ticket item like a tablet, it’s a stronger person than me that can rate need above want.

It does seem that Microsoft know that they simply can’t compete against the iPad because the spiel for the Surface 2 includes what I think is a very interesting comparison, Microsoft claim (and they’re careful about this sort of thing) that the Surface 2 is more powerful than 95% of laptops available today.

While the level of improvement that Microsoft have incorporated into the Surface 2 should improve their sales, I can’t help thinking that maybe the biggest difference will come from some strategic repositioning.

So, what should Microsoft be saying to business users?

How about this? ‘If you want an iPad, buy an iPad. If you need a laptop take a good look at Surface 2.’

 

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Office for Android Smartphones

Thursday, August 1st, 2013 by Justine<

A few weeks ago, we blogged about the Microsoft Office mobile app for iPhones.  While we loved that Microsoft are making their Office suite more accessible, we couldn’t help feeling like we’d only got half a box of chocolates.

This week sees Office mobile for android phones hit app stores in the US and once again we feel the need to temper our excitement.

Again functionality (only editing, not creation) and accessibility (365 subscribers only) is restricted and again there’s no app for tablet devices.

While we may be able to forgive Microsoft for neglecting the iPad (which pops up everywhere like an overly successful cousin with its gold watch, supermodel wife and flash car), leaving out their own Surface tablet seems like cutting off their nose to spite their face.

Surface could have been the first tablet with a fully functioning Office app, but for some reason they decided against it. I’d love to tell you the potential market place but Surface unit sales are as easy to find as unicorns (which to a suspicious mind might indicate that it could have done with the boost).

I don’t know about you but I can’t help feeling like Microsoft have us on an intravenous introduction programme, dripping Office bit by bit into the arm of modern mobile business. Maybe they’re worried that if we get it all at once we will, in some way, become intoxicated or addicted, but I think they’re running the risk of us looking for our fix elsewhere.

The one thing this drip feed is achieving is that people like me keep writing about it, but like a celebrity that turns up for the opening of an envelope the flash bulbs get a little dimmer every time…

So come on Microsoft, give us the whole thing, all the time, wherever we are and whatever shiny gadget we’re toting. We work everywhere and it’s time you did too.

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Silverstone pit lane report

Monday, July 1st, 2013 by Justine<

As we told you on Friday, Simon has spent the weekend mixing with the great and good of Formula One, as a guest of Lotus sponsor Microsoft Dynamics.

Lotus framed

Judging by the stream of superlatives that Simon used to describe the experience it’s safe to say that his ‘flabber’ was well and truly ‘gasted’ by the whole thing.

For once the British Grand Prix was run in glorious sunshine but the race itself was not without incident.

Exploding tyres are (thankfully) not a frequent visitor to F1 though aficionados may recall the 2005 US Grand Prix which saw only six cars take the grid after similar incidents in practice. And, for those who prefer two wheeled motorsport Shinya Nakano’s 200mph tyre failure  at Mugello remains a classic example of what can happen.

Team Lotus had a day of mixed fortunes, Kimi Räikkönen finished a creditable 5th after having to throw bits of Jean-Eric Vergnes tyre out of his cockpit on the Hangar Straight, and Romain Grosjean retired from the race after losing part of his front wing.

With no injuries caused by any of the dramatic events and the cars requiring extra attention from pit crews throughout the race, the pit lane was a particularly amazing place to be – unless you were a Pirelli tyre technician that is!

Thanks to our friends at Microsoft for such an amazing weekend.

N.B Rumours of Simon being sighted on Saturday night in the vicinity of the turn 4 curbing are completely unfounded!

oops

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Simon plays it cool…

Friday, June 28th, 2013 by Justine<

Simon is spending the weekend with our good friends at Microsoft Dynamics. But there’s not a seminar, flip-chart or presentation in sight. We were going to tease you about where he was, but the first picture Simon sent us leaves nothing to the imagination.

Simon at Silverstone

So Simons in the F1 pit lane at Silverstone, giddy as a kipper about the whole thing and here I am writing about it. Am I jealous? You can bet your last stolen steering wheel on it!

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