Office vs. G Suite

PowerPoint vs. Google Slides: Which works better for business?

PowerPoint has long been the tool of choice for creating business presentations, but Google Slides is worth a second look. We compare their strengths and weaknesses.

Google Slides vs. Microsoft PowerPoint
Thinkstock / Google / Microsoft

If you’re going to give business presentations, odds are you’ll be choosing between Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides, the two best-known presentation applications. They’re both solid, useful tools — and both have changed a great deal over the years. Given all their changes, you may want to reconsider what you’re using today.

To help you choose, I put them through their paces by building a presentation that many business professionals might create: announcing a new product or service line. In each program I started by looking for suitable templates, then created a new presentation; added slides; juiced them up with graphics, video and animations; collaborated with others on it; and finally, gave presentation itself.

It’s a multiplatform world, so I worked on it using a Windows PC, a Mac, an iPad, an Android tablet and an iPhone. I used the local clients and the online version of Microsoft PowerPoint, as well as the mobile versions. Google Slides is web-based but also has client versions for Android and iOS, so I tested those as well.

The descriptions that follow are based on the current, stable version of PowerPoint 2016 that is part of Microsoft Office 365. Some of the features may appear differently on a Mac. The browser-based Google Slides is, of course, the same on both Windows PCs and Macs.

Before we begin, a few notes about price. Although Google Slides is part of Google’s licensed G Suite package for businesses, it’s free for individual use.

Microsoft PowerPoint is available as part of Microsoft Office, which has a variety of different iterations for personal or business use, and is available as either an annual subscription or a one-time purchase. For example, Office 365 Home costs $100 per year and can be used on up to five PCs or Macs, five tablets, and five phones; it includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access, along with 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage. If you don't want to pay an annual subscription fee, Office Professional 2016 offers the same applications for a single PC at a cost of $400. There are other packages available as well, including Office Home & Business 2016 for $230 for one PC. And, of course, there are a number of plans for business that have per-seat annual licensing fees.

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