What is Sway and should we care?

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Microsoft has announced the existence but not availability of a new part of Office, Microsoft Sway.


Sway logo

Sway is a new way to make a web based presentations with text, images, video, social media integrated.

It certainly looks interesting.  We think of it as a 21st Century version of PowerPoint, aimed at a connected world of large and small screens instead of one person controlling a big screen.

Making a Sway presentation uses a new piece of software.  Sway lets you link to content in OneDrive, YouTube and presumably your Office documents.   You choose from some design templates or let Sway automatically arrange your content for you.

‘Assisted Authoring’ is a big part of Sway. Microsoft is talking about you telling Sway your intention plus adding a series of content elements, then letting their system turn that into a clear and professional design.  That’s a big promise which will be interesting to see in practice.

It’s unclear how you host and share your Sway presentations, but it’s most likely OneDrive or some other Microsoft hosting service (which raises the usual privacy concerns).

Here’s an example from https://sway.com/northwest_aquarium .  Scroll down to the image gallery, click on the image and another will appear from the ‘pile’ of photographs.

Sway image gallery

Click on individual photos in the presentation to see them in larger form.  Click again to return to the presentation.

Here’s the image display options currently in Sway.

Sway image options

Sway is only available as an ‘invitation only’ preview at the moment.  You can ask to join the waiting list at https://sway.com/

Good Team

One reason we know Sway will be something to watch is the name of a lead engineer, Chris Pratley.  Chris was part of the fast moving and responsive Microsoft group that made the first versions of OneNote.  We have fond memories of watching the birth of OneNote and seeing customer suggestions being implemented within weeks during the beta testing, instead of the usual years or never that’s common at Microsoft.

When Microsoft says that Sway will respond to customer feedback, we suspect it’s not a platitude with people like Chris Pratley in charge.


We’ll tell you more about Sway when we can try it for ourselves.

There’s the inevitable marketing video that’s long on hype and buzzwords but short on hard detail about how Sway will work.

A better video is this one from the Garage series:

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