Many people have been asking about the purpose of Sway, and since it’s a tool to create presentations, the natural follow-up question is why is there a new tool when PowerPoint is perfectly capable of creating presentations.
PowerPoint was designed for use with a projector. Optionally, slides can be printed, but its main focus is to build presentations that will be displayed using a device with a particular size. In PowerPoint, you control exactly where elements will be displayed, the font sizes, the alignment,… .everything. And, for projectors, this is nice. But if someone tries to view a PowerPoint presentation on a phone, they’re going to have issues. Fonts that are sized well for a projector are not sized well for a small screen. Photos that look good in a horizontal layout may not appear correctly when viewed in a vertical layout.
So, this is where sway fits in. It’s a new, web based tool that allows you to create presentations that are optimized for viewing on various sizes devices. Sway does not provide a lot of options that PowerPoint users are used to, as the goal is not to define pixel by pixel exactly where things will appear, as sway takes care of positioning elements based on the size of the screen that is being used by each user.
Why didn’t they add this to PowerPoint? PowerPoint has a lot of existing capabilities like slide transitions and animations, and the ability to precisely define the slide layout that wouldn’t work well in this new environment. So instead of creating two different PowerPoint modes with radically different capabilities, they’ve built a new tool.