When Did It Start?
According to information available from the PressPass section of the Microsoft site, the newsgroups were started as a replacement to Microsoft's erstwhile CompuServe® forums forums. This announcement was made on April 9, 1996 although the newsgroups went live only on the 15th; the CompuServe® forums ceased to exist after the 20th. Everything happened within 12 days!
You can read the press release in its entirety at:
A Day In The Life Of...
Compared to other newsgroups on the Internet, the PowerPoint group is like a haven. Around 124,000 (as on December 5th, 2003) messages and replies have made their appearance on this newsgroup. Yet, postings normally do not exceed an average of more than 300 a day—and many answers are provided by a few volunteers, many of them are MVPs (Microsoft Valued Professionals). You can learn more about the MVP program here.
At least two of the MVPs helping you on the forum are active since the CompuServe® days. It's not only the MVPs who help resolve your problems. Participants include book authors, presentation professionals, site owners, programmers, and ordinary users too.
It's worth mentioning here that all those who choose to help you and provide you with answers are under absolutely no obligation to do so. They receive no monetary compensation from Microsoft. Indeed, many of them started off as PowerPoint beginners.
Microsoft maintains a charter which details their rules of conduct for using Microsoft newsgroups. You'll find this document at:
Using A NewsReader
In most cases, you may want to use a newsreader application to read and store news postings. Examples of these applications include Outlook Express, Forte Agent, Windows Live Mail, and Super Gravity.
Instructions to configure such newsreaders can be found in the accompanying help files. The following links are excellent sources for more information:
NewsReaders.com is a great resource about newsgroups and software related to them.
The Tomsterdam site has links to various Outlook Express resources.
The Unofficial Netscape FAQ is a great place to learn more about Netscape News.
Tom's Gravity Pages is an excellent resource and introduction to users of MicroPlanet Gravity.
Reading from a Browser
Microsoft has a browser-based interface from where you can access all newsgroups, including those concerned with PowerPoint:
Microsoft Newsgroups (link no longer exists)
Google Groups' archives postings from various newsgroups. These are available for search at:
Google Groups (link no longer exists)
A Note from Sonia
Since creating this page, we found an excellent related posting by Sonia Coleman on the PowerPoint newsgroup. It is reproduced here with her permission.
There are usually about 10,000 messages and replies posted and viewable on this newsgroup. If you are not directly accessing the msnews.microsoft.com news server, we encourage you to do so.
Once you have done that, you will need to read in the headers for the existing posts. It's hard to tell you how to do that in your particular news reader, but if you are using Outlook Express you can go to Tools | Options | Read and set News | Get Next headers to the number of headers to be read (your choice). Set the number from 300 to 1,000 (or uncheck the box and all headers will be downloaded to you).
Then go to Tools | Get Next XXX headers and click it, where XXX is the number you set above. Keep doing this until you have as many headers as you want on your system. Or, if you unclick the box, the total number of available messages (10,000) will be downloaded. If you are on dial-up or an expensive connection, this might not be a suitable option for you.
In Outlook Express, you can use the Edit | Find facility to search for a keyword, a poster's name, etc. This is very helpful if you have a specific question, and you want to see if someone else has asked a similar question and received some assistance that you too can benefit from.
In Netscape, the following will work. Settings: Edit | Preferences | Newsgroup Servers & Edit | Preferences Disk Space to set download and storage options. Right-click on a newsgroup, select Newsgroup Properties, and set some more.
Search: Edit | Search Messages, use drop-down lists to set parameters and type in the search string.
The key here is that tons of information exchange is stored on the msnews.microsoft.com news server, and this will help you take full advantage of that fact.
If you have a question, please post it. Include the version of PowerPoint that you are using and the version of Windows that you are running. Also, include any additional details related to the problem and the processes that you used to get there. This stuff is really important and will help us respond with the most useful suggestions.
We hope that this will help you gain the maximum benefit from our little newsgroup. We warmly welcome you and hope that you will take full advantage of the information posted here, and also contribute your knowledge to other posters who are struggling with something you have already figured out and resolved. The water is warm and friendly, so just dive right in and have fun with us.
By the way, if anyone has a newsreader not mentioned, please jump in and describe the set-up and quot; find/search" process for that newsreader. I'll add the information to this message for the future.
Microsoft PowerPoint MVP Team