PowerPoint mini-toolbar expands with adaptive extras

PowerPoint for Windows is getting a new mini-toolbar with adaptive extra features.  Some of the buttons will change depending on the tools you most commonly use.

The mini-toolbar is in all Office apps, it appears whenever you select something.

At the moment, the options are the same with basic formatting (font, size, color,bold, highlighting, Format Painter etc) and New Comment like this:

The new mini-toolbar has three more buttons or menus on the right, like this:

Adaptive buttons

The difference is the new buttons change over time, they aren’t fixed like the current mini-toolbar.

The right-side buttons will change depending on the last 20 commands you’ve used.  They’ll change as PowerPoint ‘learns’ what you use the most.

The button changes aren’t as direct or obvious as you might expect. We first saw the buttons as shown above (Animation Styles, Bullets and Shape Fill) when selecting text.  Then we changed some Character Spacing (at Home | Font) on various slides.  After that, the buttons changed, adding Change Case and Line Spacing but NOT the command we’d just used several times (Character Spacing).

The adaptive buttons might only be from a limited choice of features, not everything on the ribbon.

It remains to be seen how useful the machine learning is, especially since it’s only working off the last 20 commands.

Kudos to the Microsoft team for avoiding the hype catchphrase ‘AI’ and calling the adaptive mini-toolbar what it really is; ‘machine learning’.

For the moment, the adaptive PowerPoint for Windows mini-toolbar is in version 2005, build 12723.10000 and later.

Beyond PowerPoint

We’d expect the concept of adaptive mini-toolbars to spread into Word, Excel and Outlook sometime soon.  Hopefully for Mac as well as Windows.

Microsoft will see how well the feature is accepted in PowerPoint before expanding it’s reach.

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