Microsoft readies new Producer for PowerPoint rich-media add-in

Microsoft has launched a private beta for the Producer add-in for PowerPoint 2007.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft has launched a private beta for the Producer add-in for PowerPoint 2007.

Producer enables PowerPoint users to "capture, synchronize, and pubish audio, video, slides and images to create engaging rich media presentations that can be viewed in a web browser," explained Microsoft Senior Technical Account Manager Nick MacKechnie. MacKechnie blogged on June 6:

"Today we will release the beta version of Microsoft Producer for Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 via our Connect site. This version of Producer works with PowerPoint 2007, Windows Vista, and IE7, and is also compatible with Open XML. This is a long-awaited add-in for many customers, we're happy to be on the final path to getting it out the door."

MacKechnie said that Microsoft will run the beta, available via its private Connect site, through June 30, 2008. The final version of the add-in will be released to the Office Download Center in the July/August 2008 timeframe, he said.

The WindowsConnected guys say that Microsoft originally were leaning toward not updating Producer. From a post by Josh Phillips:

"After initially refusing to put out an updated version, it would seem there has been sufficient feedback that nothing filed the gap left by Producer that they have decided to do a quick update to the 2003 version. They didn't spend a whole lot of time updating the application as you can tell from the User Interface...."

I can't help but wonder whether Adobe's recent announcements regarding Acrobat 9 and the ability to embed Flash in presentations might have gotten Microsoft interested in rushing a new version of Producer out the door. Given Microsoft didn't seem to have any "Silverlight Now Embeddable in PowerPoint" announcements waiting in the wings, maybe the Redmondians thought a new version of Producer might fill the rich presentation gap, a least for the time being....

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