New PowerPoint Viewer

A big focus of the PowerPoint team for the 2003 release was working on a brand new PowerPoint Viewer.
The previous viewer had been written for the PowerPoint 97 release, and was missing a bunch of newer features, most notably:

  • newer animations and slide transitions
  • password protected presentations
  • animated GIFs

These have all been added.

One nice thing about Microsoft Office viewers is they're free so you can use them even if
you don't own the associated program. This also applies to the
, the
Excel viewer, and the
Visio viewer (...and I'm sure there are

But I own PowerPoint! Why do I care that there's a new viewer? I can just view
my presentation in PowerPoint...

One point of anxiety you face as a PowerPoint user is being unsure whether the presentation that took
you hours to create and looks marvelous on
your home machine will turn to ugly mush after they force you to present on some
old machine running a decade-old version of PowerPoint that's already connected to a projector but that doesn't support half the animations you're using.

Fear no more.

The coolest feature of this viewer is it can be run without any installation or setup,
which means it can be run directly off your USB keychain or even off write-protected media like a CD or

the old Pack and Go Wizard,
a new Package for CD feature (File | Package for CD...) has been added
in PowerPoint 2003 to make it dead easy to burn your presentation to a CD along
with the new PowerPoint Viewer. Then, you can just stick the CD into any machine
running Windows 98 SE or later, even if the computer doesn't have PowerPoint,
and your presentation'll play automatically using the new viewer.

In theory, this doesn't sound like it would be very hard to develop. I mean, we could just take PowerPoint and remove code to get a viewer. That's exactly what was done to create the PowerPoint 97 viewer. But,
to get the feature set we wanted for this new viewer, like being able to run directly off a CD, the new viewer was essentially rewritten from scratch.

So create your presentation and burn it to a CD, knowing you can stick it in practically any old
Windows machine and
it'll play exactly the way you expect it to.

Comments (8)

  1. Mike Niedringhaus says:

    The statement that the viewer does not need to be installed is apparently wrong. It only works if it IS installed on a computer.

  2. Wayne Kao says:

    Are you doing this with the new PowerPoint Viewer 2003?

    It does need some DLLs and the EXE, but these are these are part of the program and are burned to the CD or saved to your USB keychain thing. Nothing gets installed to the computer running the viewer. It’s not listed in "Add/Remove Programs", it isn’t on the Start menu, and nothing gets added to "Program Files". You don’t ever have to run an installation program either.

    Maybe it’s doing something else I’m not aware of. Can you go into more detail about what you’re doing?

  3. Mike N says:

    Well, I guess you HAVE to have Powerpoint 2003 and use its new Package for CD to create this non-installation version. I have 2002 and 2000 versions. If I want to use the 2003 viewer, I still have to install it. This is a major pain, because most computers around here are protected from installations from people other than IT guys. So, the 2003 viewer is useless unless you have permission to install on that computer.

  4. Wayne Kao says:

    I talked to Andre Chen, who is the program manager for the PowerPoint Viewer. Here’s what he had to say:


    So you guys are both right. To run the Viewer does not require any installation (you just need the files in one folder). However, the problem that this person is having is "acquiring" the Viewer. We created a web download package that installs the Viewer on your machine (adds a shortcut, puts it in the Office dir), which he can’t do because of his locked down system. The other alternative is to have 2003 because we’ve already installed the Viewer by default with PowerPoint.

    The goal of "installation-free" for the Viewer was for authors to distribute the Viewer/presentations to their audience, who would not need to install anything to see the presentation.



    So, Mike, the workaround for your specific problem is to download/install the viewer on a non-locked down machine. Then, once you have the EXE and DLLs, you can copy them to the locked down machine and run them, no installation necessary.

    Let me know if that works out for you.

  5. Mike Niedringhaus says:

    Yeah, it’s not as clean as with PP03, but it is definitely an option. Thanks for your efforts. I really appreciate that. I’m writing an article for our monthly online newsletter and I want to introduce this new tool, but not make it too complicated for them. I think I can do that now. Thanks again.

  6. Jane :latorre says:

    I tried using powerpoint viewer 97 but when i tried running a PPS with thai fonts, the statements were garbage. but when i tried running it with 2003, everything is ok. Except that I cannot automate it using VisualBasic (which I can do with ver 7 before, only that thai fonts seem not supported.) I hope you have a work-around plan on this issue. Thanks!

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