Replace the SharePoint slide library, not SharePoint!

Starting with SharePoint 2013, Microsoft surprisingly dropped support for their popular slide library feature. SharePoint’s slide library gave users access to PowerPoint content on a single slide-level. Further, it provided a picture preview of each slide, allowing users to quickly determine which slide they needed. While the UI was a little rough, SharePoint’s slide library was an important tool for marketing and sales teams across multiple industries. As companies upgraded their SharePoint implementation, users are often caught off-guard, losing access to an important feature and desperately looking to replace it.

In the following years, several 3rd party solutions have been introduced, including our own TeamSlide. However, many of these solutions ignore SharePoint (and other content systems), requiring users to recreate their repository on their own proprietary platforms. This strategy poses 2 primary issues:

  1. Manually rebuilding large repositories with metadata is extremely cumbersome, regardless of how easy the system tries to make it
  2. Most slide library offerings are point solutions with limited integration. As such, the repository is not usable by other technologies

When building TeamSlide, we spoke with marketing and sales teams across multiple industries and developed 2 key design tenants:

  1. Leverage existing content repositories like SharePoint to the fullest extent possible
    • Automatically replicate content
    • Pull in all existing metadata
  2. Place access to the library where users work – in PowerPoint
    • A visual preview of search results
    • Click to insert slides into the users’ active presentation

Expecting users to drastically change their habits inhibits adoption and impacts productivity. Effective slide library solutions need to leverage existing content systems and fit into current workflows.

If your team lost SharePoint’s slide library solution, request a demo of TeamSlide and we’d be happy to set up a free trial.  You’ll be able to search your PowerPoint presentations in SharePoint on a single-slide level, from within PowerPoint.

A brief look at the origins of PowerPoint and its acquisition by Microsoft

Since its inception, PowerPoint has revolutionized the way we present. Although PowerPoint has grown to become a ubiquitous tool across multiple industries and worked its way into pop culture (see Dilbert), few know about its early days.

Early PowerPoint history
A brief look at the origins of PowerPoint and its acquisition by Microsoft

PowerPoint began development in 1984 when Robert Gaskins was hired at Forethought, Inc. in Sunnyvale, California. His initial description of PowerPoint noted that business presentations were a $3.5B industry driven by 35mm slides and overhead transparencies. The idea of presentations wasn’t new and there were already a number of competitors. However, PowerPoint sought to disrupt the industry, making it quicker and easier to build slides with the help of personal computers.

The name “PowerPoint” wasn’t coined until just before its official release in 1987 when attempts to trademark the original name “Presenter” were rejected.

In February 1987, about 2 months prior to launch, Microsoft visited Forethought for a private demonstration. Bill Gates remained skeptical: “No, no, no, no, no, that’s just a feature of Microsoft Word, just put it into Word.” However, Microsoft returned a few days later to offer $5.3M plus incentives. Unhappy with the terms, which included moving the development team to Redmond, Forethought rejected the offer and subsequent offers from Microsoft.

On April 20th, 1987, PowerPoint 1.0 for Macintosh shipped. The initial press reviews were favorable, and their first production run of 10,000 units sold out. On April 28th, Microsoft visited Forethought again and the final deal structure started to take shape. On June 25th, the Microsoft officially agreed to a purchase price of $14M in cash. A permanent ‘Business Unit’ run by Robert Gaskins would remain in California.

PowerPoint 2.0, the first version available on Windows, was released in 1990 in conjunction with Windows 3.0. Press coverage of Windows 3.0 was illustrated in PowerPoint slides, launching a strong symbiotic relationship. Microsoft beat offers by Apple, Borland, Xerox, and others to get a head start in the presentation industry – they’ve never looked back.