Microsoft Powerpoint and its .ppt and .pptx files are hugely popular in and out of the business world. You can’t exactly run Powerpoint on the Chromebook, but you can get pretty darn close.
Slides is Google’s presentation tool. Everything’s online and it’s totally free. Slides can read .ppt and .pptx files, but it’s not perfect. If you have some funky formatting in your file, Slides will try its best, but the output can be illegible. Simpler documents and straight up formatting are usually no problem, and you can also save out to a Powerpoint file for anyone else. There’s one huge advantage to Slides – multiple people can edit one single version at once, even at the same time – you’ll see their cursor and what they’re doing as they type. You can also do a presentation over the web, and see what slides the other participants of your meeting are looking at – neat!
Office web apps
If you’re used to the look and feel of Powerpoint, and you aren’t using complex documents, Microsoft provide a version of Powerpoint for the web. It’s in beta, but it works pretty well. Just head to My Office on office.com, sign in with your Microsoft account and get rolling. While it’s easy to create new documents and export them, to open existing documents you’ll need to upload it to Microsoft’s Skydrive and open it from there.
rollApp runs LibreOffice and OpenOffice on the web, so you can use them on your Chromebook. Opening Powerpoint files in LibreOffice Impress is easy – you can connect to your Dropbox or Google Drive and open them like regular files. You also have access to some more complex features that you might be used to from Powerpoint. The downsides are that, similar to Google Slides, it doesn’t interpret files perfectly, particularly for more complex documents. It’s also not hugely stable yet, being still in beta, and free accounts are limited to three documents at a time, and an automatic shutdown after 10 minutes idle.
If you’re one of the lucky few with a Chromebook Pixel, you have QuickOffice installed which can read (but not edit) Word documents. We should get editing enabled in the next few months, and a rollout to other Chromebook devices from there.
If you absolutely must have a full version of Powerpoint, you can try Nivio – it’s a web service that lets you run a remote Windows instance. It’s a paid service starting at $50 per month if you want access to Office (it’s Office 2010).