Slides vs. PowerPoint: 5 ways Google beats Microsoft

By Veronica Raulin | Head of Change Management

Still using PowerPoint to whip up slide decks for webinars and other presentations? Here are 5 reasons to make the switch to Google Slides, the modern, collaborative, cloud-based alternative.

1. Slides was built in the cloud, for the cloud

PowerPoint, like the rest of the Microsoft 365 suite, was originally designed as a desktop app. Cloud-based features were shoehorned in later — much later, and it shows. Most users still install PowerPoint onto their local devices, and they’re limited to five devices per license.1 While there is a web-based version of PowerPoint available, it lacks some key features, including advanced design tools and the ability to integrate Excel charts.2

In this age of distributed workforces, these are pretty serious limitations.

Conversely, Google Slides is fully cloud-native, browser-centric, and accessible from any device, using any modern web browser. Other than offline storage, which is only supported on Google Chrome, Slides users enjoy the same user interface, functionality, and integration with the rest of Google Workspace regardless of which browser, operating system or device they’re using. They can also access and edit their Slides decks on as many devices as they want, at no extra charge.

Slides being cloud-based also means that all updates are automatically handled by Google. Users never have to worry about running an outdated version of the software or whether other users won’t be able to open a Slides file because they’re running an older version (we’re looking at you, .pptx files that older versions of PowerPoint won’t open). Your IT and security admins will appreciate not having any updates to manage!

2. Slides was designed for collaboration

Further to the above, collaboration abilities were shoehorned into PowerPoint many years after the app first hit the market. As a result, PowerPoint’s “co-authoring” tools are clunky and complex — another serious problem in modern workplaces, where presentation decks are typically put together by teams. 

Just like Word and Excel, real-time co-authoring in PowerPoint hinges on many external factors, including which device each user is working on, whether all users are part of the same organization, and where the slide deck being worked on is stored. At the very least, all collaborators aren’t guaranteed the same experience when editing and commenting. Some of them will see comments and edits in real-time, while others … well, won’t. If the stars don’t align precisely, co-authoring doesn’t work at all.

Collaborating in Slides is just like collaborating in Docs and Sheets:

  1. Enter the other users’ email addresses under “Share with people and groups,” and Google will send them invitations to access the document.
  2. Choose “Get link” to receive a link, which can be sent to other users manually. 

Edits and comments always appear instantly and in real-time, and they’re visible to all users, regardless of which devices or browsers they’re using. A user can even have the same slide deck open on multiple devices, and Slides won’t miss a beat. Tip: Accessing, editing, and commenting on slides from your mobile device is a great experience, allowing you to collaborate anywhere, anytime.

3. Slides has automatic file-save and versioning

Autosave is available in PowerPoint, but it’s not turned on by default, and it only works if users are logged into their OneDrive or Sharepoint account. If they’re saving to their local device, they’re out of luck. Sorry. If users need to revert back to a previous version of a slide deck or view edit history, their options depend on which version of PowerPoint they’re using, how their organization’s administrator has configured versioning, and whether they’re using Sharepoint.3

In Slides, there’s nothing to configure. Like other Google Workspace apps, Slides automatically saves all files in Google Drive for easy access from any web browser, on any device. IT administrators can easily set up team (shared) drives and folders according to department, job function, project team, or any other category that makes sense for their organization, then give users access levels that are appropriate to their jobs.

Versioning is automatic, too. There’s nothing to configure. It just works, and it works the same way on every device: By accessing File > Version history, users can browse the slide deck’s full edit history and restore previous versions with a single click.

4. Slides integrates with the rest of Google Workspace

If you’re already using Docs, Sheets, Gmail, Meet, and the rest of Google Workspace, switching to Google Slides means taking advantage of the seamless integration between Slides and Google’s family of productivity apps:

  • Embed charts or tables from Google Sheets, with the choice to link them directly so that changes made to the original Sheets object will reflect in Slides. This is especially powerful when ensuring your presentation has the most up-to-date data visuals.
  • Easily embed YouTube videos, as well as videos stored in Google Drive, and customize start and end times directly from Slides.
  • Create, view, and insert Google Keep notes into your Slides decks.
  • Use Smart Canvas to present content from Slides during active Google Meet calls without having to switch tabs or apps.

Developers can access the Slides REST API directly with the Apps Script advanced Slides service, which lets devs programmatically create and modify Google Slides presentations and make Slides their own with custom menus, dialogs, and sidebars.

5. Slides can peacefully coexist with PowerPoint

Maybe you have co-workers, clients, or partners who aren’t ready to ditch PowerPoint. Maybe you’re still on the fence yourself. That’s fine! Using the Office editing feature, Slides users can upload PowerPoint presentations to Google Drive, then open, edit, and collaborate on them in Slides — without having to convert the PowerPoint files. This enables you to bring all of the collaboration features of Slides to a PowerPoint deck, and when everyone is finished, you can download the deck as a ppt or pptx file. And, regardless of the file type – Slides or PowerPoint – you have access to the presenter features!

Just need to do a few quick edits? You can open and edit PowerPoint presentations in Gmail, without having to access Slides at all.

By the way, you can do the same for Word and Excel documents, too. 

Go further with SADA

If you’re looking to simplify organizational change and maximize ROI, we offer results-driven change management services to help you harness the full power of Google Workspace. Our experts have helped leading organizations like Colgate-Palmolive embrace change for maximum impact. 

In addition, we offer a variety of helpful resources to guide you in your cloud transformation journey including:

Our Getting out of Microsoft Office readiness checklist that provides 30 considerations for your team as you plan for the transition to Google Workspace

1 https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/compare-all-microsoft-365-products?activetab=tab:primaryr2
2 https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/servicedescriptions/office-online-service-description/office-online-service-description
3 https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/view-previous-versions-of-office-files-5c1e076f-a9c9-41b8-8ace-f77b9642e2c2

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