Microsoft PowerPoint is a presentation program, created by Robert Gaskins and Dennis Austin at a software company named Forethought, Inc. It was released on April 20, 1987, initially for Macintosh System Operating system based computers only. Microsoft acquired PowerPoint for about $14 million three months after it appeared. This was Microsoft's first significant acquisition, and Microsoft set up a new business unit for PowerPoint in Silicon Valley where Forethought had been located.
PowerPoint became a component of the Microsoft Office suite, first offered in 1989 for Macintosh and in 1990 for Windows, which bundled several Microsoft apps. Beginning with PowerPoint 4.0 (1994), PowerPoint was integrated into Microsoft Office development, and adopted shared common components and a converged user interface.
PowerPoint's market share was very small at first, prior to introducing a version for Microsoft Windows, but grew rapidly with the growth of Windows and of Office. Since the late 1990s, PowerPoint's worldwide market share of presentation software has been estimated at 95 percent.
PowerPoint was originally designed to provide visuals for group presentations within business organizations, but has come to be very widely used in many other communication situations, both in business and beyond. The impact of this much wider use of PowerPoint has been experienced as a powerful change throughout society, with strong reactions including advice that it should be used less, should be used differently, or should be used better.
The first PowerPoint version (Macintosh 1987) was used to produce overhead transparencies, the second (Macintosh 1988, Windows 1990) could also produce color 35 mm slides. The third version (Windows and Macintosh 1992) introduced video output of virtual slideshows to digital projectors, which would over time completely replace physical transparencies and slides. A dozen major versions since then have added many additional features and modes of operation and have made PowerPoint available beyond Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows, adding versions for iOS, Android, and web access.
PowerPoint Viewer is the name for a series of small free application programs to be used on computers without PowerPoint installed, to view, project, or print (but not create or edit) presentations.
The first version was introduced with PowerPoint 3.0 in 1992, to enable electronic presentations to be projected using conference-room computers and to be freely distributed; on Windows, it took advantage of the new feature of embedding TrueType fonts within PowerPoint presentation files to make such distribution easier. The same kind of viewer app was shipped with PowerPoint 3.0 for Macintosh, also in 1992.
Beginning with PowerPoint 2003, a feature called "Package for CD" automatically managed all linked video and audio files plus needed fonts when exporting a presentation to a disk or flash drive or network location, and also included a copy of a revised PowerPoint Viewer application so that the result could be presented on other PCs without installing anything.
The latest version that runs on Windows "was created in conjunction with PowerPoint 2010, but it can also be used to view newer presentations created in PowerPoint 2013 and PowerPoint 2016. ... All transitions, videos and effects appear and behave the same when viewed using PowerPoint Viewer as they do when viewed in PowerPoint 2010." It supports presentations created using PowerPoint 97 and later. The latest version that runs on Macintosh is PowerPoint 98 Viewer for the Classic Mac OS and Classic Environment, for Macs supporting System 7.5 to Mac OS X Tiger (10.4). It can open presentations only from PowerPoint 3.0, 4.0, and 8.0 (PowerPoint 98), although presentations created on Mac can be opened in PowerPoint Viewer on Windows.
As of May 2018, the last versions of PowerPoint Viewer for all platforms have been retired by Microsoft; they are no longer available for download and no longer receive security updates. The final PowerPoint Viewer for Windows (2010) and the final PowerPoint Viewer for Classic Mac OS (1998) are available only from archives. The recommended replacements for PowerPoint Viewer: "On Windows 10 PCs, download the free ... PowerPoint Mobile application from the Windows Store," and "On Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 PCs, upload the file to OneDrive and view it for free using ... PowerPoint Online."