Just weeks after rolling out a private preview of the Office Mix add-on for PowerPoint, Microsoft now is letting the general public take the technology for a spin. A company spokesperson alerted eWEEK in a May 8 email that "today we are announcing that the customer preview of Microsoft's Office Mix is publicly available."
A new Office Mix Customer Preview Website invites all visitors to download the free add-on; Office Mix adds interactive and rich media features to PowerPoint presentations, and requires a PC with Office 365 or PowerPoint 2013.
Microsoft first unveiled Office Mix last month. Initially aimed at educators, Office Mix is being billed as a way for teachers to quickly and cost-effectively create and share interactive digital lessons and quizzes using PowerPoint's familiar tools.
Teachers can build presentations that blend captured video, pen input and interactive quizzes to engage students. Office Mix users "can also add content from interactive apps such as exercises and lessons from Khan Academy and CK-12 Foundation," said the spokesperson.
Tablet-optimized "mixes"—what the new type of PowerPoint presentation is called—are generated by the cloud when users upload their creations. After sharing a link to their mixes, users can then track usage statistics and view quiz results.
The Office Mix Website provides a Gallery of sample mixes and showcases the interactive features that the company has baked into cloud-enabled presentation software. For instance, a lesson in Ohm's Law from Microsoft Research leads the viewer through the basics, cuts to a video of an ill-advised encounter with a toaster and ends with a mini-game that embodies the lesson's concepts.
Office Mix is the latest front in the software giant's Office 365 educational push. In December, Microsoft launched its Student Advantage program, which grants students free access to Office 365 ProPlus at schools and universities that license Office 365 ProPlus or Office Professional Plus for their faculty and staff.
The Redmond, Wash.-based tech titan pledged support for the White House's ConnectED initiative in February. Over the course of 2014, Microsoft will offer K-12 schools free and low-cost access to Windows 8.1 Pro and Office 365.
Hinting at the technology's business training potential, Office Mix has a place "beyond the classroom," according to Microsoft. Office Mix can also be used to capture missed presentations or streamline meetings. "You can even record a meeting and have people watch the presentation outside the meeting, and then repurpose the meeting time for discussion," the company said in a blog post.
"This is just the beginning, and we are excited to see what other creative uses you will dream up and what more you may want in the product," added the company.