Microsoft Sway is now available to the general public. We told you about Sway last year when it was announced. Microsoft is calling it a ‘digital storytelling’ app which is a bit of unhelpful marketing jargon.
Instead, think of Sway as a 21st Century version of PowerPoint. Cloud based, interactive, designed to be shared for editing and viewing. We expect that eventually PowerPoint will be expanded to include Sway elements (Microsoft hasn’t even hinted at that, but it makes no sense to have separate products).
Anyone can use Sway with a free Microsoft account. It’s also available to all eligible Office 365 for business and education customers.
Sway lets you create interactive presentations that are difficult, if not impossible, with PowerPoint. You can bring in photos, videos and even tweets more easily than in PowerPoint.
Presentations aren’t locked into the slide format of PowerPoint. Sway can do slides but also a more flowing, narrative style (hence the use of terms like ‘Storyline’).
Sway is primarily a web based system, much like Office Online (Word, Excel or PowerPoint in a browser). Like Office Online, you can expect the online system to be updated fairly regularly.
There’s now a Windows 10 app for Sway. It lacks all the features that the online editor has. Most important for Office users, only the online editor can import Word, PowerPoint or PDF documents.
Why use Sway?
For some of us Sway is genuinely new and interesting and that’s reason enough.
If you’ve been making PowerPoint decks for viewing online, you’ll find Sway much better suited for online viewing.
Sway also gives tired PowerPoint makers and audiences the chance to see something different on the screen.
Sway presentations adapt to the way they are presented. The same presentation appears differently if you’re displaying it in a web browser, smartphone, Sway app or embedded in a web page.
For example, here’s an image from one of Microsoft sample Sway’s:
You can move forward/back through the ‘slides’. Click on the Google Map and you’ll discover that it’s an interactive map – you can pan and zoom around the map while still in the presentation. (Yes, that’s a Google Map, not Bing, in a Microsoft document).
You can see the same presentation full screen by using the top-right button or this link https://sway.com/8WhQSQGqThHQYgiL it will appear full screen in the browser.
Here’s the same presentation and ‘slide’ as above but on an Android smartphone. Sway has adapted the content to display elegantly on the much smaller screen.