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An Interview with Vitaliy Kuznetsov

In this interview, Vitaliy talks about PowerPoint:mac, Microsoft and the MacBU.

Vitaliy Kuznetsov is a Program Manager for PowerPoint in Microsoft’s Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU).

Currently, he drives the development of PowerPoint, and in the past has shipped PowerPoint 2001 and PowerPoint X, as well as worked on a few Mac Internet products.

Kuznetsov joined Microsoft in 1999, moving to sunny California from windy Chicago, where he was going to school, working in IT for automotive marketing firms and doing some consulting work.

Kuznetsov's history with Macintoshes started during his high-school years with the Polish-made analog of Mac II-e called "Pravets", when he made the heroic effort of developing a decent word processing application for that machine using BASIC. Before MacBU, his encounters with Macs were limited to HyperCard programming in school and helping various Mac-based clients during his consulting work.

Kuznetsov's work interests are in the areas of productivity and multimedia software development, user interface design, and, of course, beautiful PowerPoint presentations.

Kuznetsov's current favorite machine is a 15" PowerBook G4. In his spare time he enjoys outdoor activities and learning to play the piano.

Geetesh: Tell us more about PowerPoint:mac - also, tell us more about compatibility between Mac and Windows versions.

Vitaliy: Well, Microsoft has been making software for the Mac platform for the past 20 years and many may not know that PowerPoint was first a Mac application before it was built for Windows. Although PowerPoint for Mac is developed in the Macintosh Business Unit to meet the specific needs of Mac users, the team does collaborate with the WinPPT team as well. In research with Mac users we found compatibility to be very important to 92 percent of them. New features to Office 2004 like the Compatibility Report are examples of how we continue to help Mac users be more compatible with Windows users.

Geetesh: How committed is Microsoft to the Mac platform?

Vitaliy: Microsoft is absolutely committed to the Mac platform. We have been making software for the Mac for 20 years and look forward to many years to come. In 2004 alone we have released new versions of the Office applications as well as MSN® Messenger and the Virtual PC 7 is just months away. In fact, the teams in Redmond and Mountain View, CA are already hard at work planning the next version of Office based our customers' needs.

Geetesh: What do you think is the single most important feature in PowerPoint:mac 2004? Also, what are the new features in this version that have added based on customer feedback?

Vitaliy: There are two main areas of focus in PowerPoint 2004 for Mac. The first is around helping customers when they are building their PowerPoint presentations and one of the most important features in this area is the new animations engine. Animation capabilities have been significantly expanded to give customers simultaneous animations, new effects, timing control, etc.

The second area of focus is around helping people when they are giving their presentations. Although all of our features are based on customers' needs one of the biggest new ones in PowerPoint 2004 is the Presenter Tools. The new Presenter Tools allow the presenters to see much more information on their monitors than the audience sees. While the audience sees the slide that is being projected, the presenter views a timer and notes and has full access to the entire slide deck all in one screen.

Geetesh: Why is there no new PowerPoint Viewer compatible with OS X?

Vitaliy: With the ability to make a PowerPoint presentation into a QuickTime movie, customers can now view a presentation without having to have PowerPoint. The QuickTime Player is available for Macs and PCs allowing any users to view that presentation.

Geetesh: We know that both the Mac and Windows development teams for PowerPoint work from the same facility in Mountain View, CA. What sort of coordination takes place?

Vitaliy: We are working with the Windows team to make sure that PowerPoint is a great cross-platform application. We use each other's research results, participate in meetings, spec reviews, etc. Sometimes we bring features over from Windows, sometimes the Windows team uses our expertise in User Interface.

Geetesh: What do you suggest for end-users who have so much trouble porting between Mac and Windows versions - for instance the Windows versions do not play QuickTime movies. Now the new PowerPoint:mac 2004 does have a compatibility feature, but there's no similar feature for the Windows version. What can users do to ensure that their Windows presentations do not run into problems when played on a Mac.

Vitaliy: Using the new Compatibility Report in PowerPoint 2004 will help Mac users see what elements of their presentations may look different or not work in Windows PowerPoint. This gives the customer control to design a presentation that will look best to everyone they share it with.

A few general compatibility rules are:

  • Use bitmaps such as JPG and PNG for images.
  • Use common fonts that traditionally ship with Office. Do not use fancy Mac or Windows - specific fonts.
  • Use MPG or AVI for movies. Do not use Windows Media or QuickTime format (the same applies to sound clips)
  • Leave some space in your placeholders. Due to font rendering differences, text may wrap differently on Mac and Windows.

Geetesh: The Windows version of PowerPoint has Photo Album - yet the Mac version has also the special photo effects that seem to be part of the old PhotoDraw program. Why don't both versions have both features - especially since both the features put together look like a logical workflow?

Vitaliy: Photo effects are for tweaking images inserted into presentations. They do not have to be photos but can be used on any graphics file. PowerPoint can absolutely be used to create a photo album but Mac users tell us that they enjoy using iPhoto for albums as this is where they already store all of their photos.

Geetesh: One of the most-loved features of PowerPoint:mac is the amazing movie output - tell us more about how that evolved.

Vitaliy: PowerPoint movie features were proposed by one of our lead developers, Tony Lin. As QuickTime introduced more and more interactivity features, we realized that PowerPoint presentations could be distributed as QuickTime movies and viewed on any Mac or PC. We added QuickTime movies as one of our supported file formats. Later we added support for things like animations, slide transitions, and interactive buttons.