If you are reading this article, you have either considered using PowerPoint within MediaShout or have had problems using PowerPoint in MediaShout. We hope to clear up some confusion about what does and doesn't work by explaining a major change that took place starting in 2013.
For PowerPoint 2013, 2016, and 365, Microsoft has chosen to use a very different method than previous versions to deliver and install the program. In previous versions of Office, to install it you downloaded (or used a disk that contained) a large file that installed the entire program. This method of install used what is commonly known as an MSI Installer. The newer versions use a "Click-to-Run" installer (more on that below).
So, without trying to be too technical, MSI is an installer package file format used by Windows. Almost all programs that you have ever installed on your Windows computer used an MSI installer. Its name comes from the program’s original title, Microsoft Installer, which has since changed to Windows Installer. MSI files are used for installation, storage, and removal of programs. The files are contained in a package (usually known as .EXE files), which is used with the program’s installer service to open and install the program.
With 2013, 2016, and Office 365, the file that you download is much smaller and quicker to install and uses what is called a "Click-to-Run" installer. Click-to-Run is an alternative to the traditional Windows Installer-based (MSI) method of installing and updating programs (such as Office). If you install Office by using MSI, you have to wait until the whole Office product is installed before you can open and start to use the product. But you have the entire program and all support files installed. With Click-to-Run, if you try to use a feature that is not yet downloaded and installed, Click-to-Run immediately tries to download and install that feature. This streaming capability resembles how you watch videos from the Internet. You can start to watch the first part of the video before the whole video downloads to your computer. The same is here - you can use the program without having everything installed. If something is needed, it will download and install it, but if it isn't needed, it never will be added.
Unfortunately, this Click-to-Run process does not always behave well when integrating with other software (like MediaShout). We've seen very mixed results ranging from it not working at all, to everything working perfectly (depending on what tools the Click-to-Run has downloaded and installed). And sometimes when it doesn't work, 20 minutes later it does work. The challenge is there are no steps that will allow you to "force" the needed components to be installed to make it work.
For this fact alone, this is simply not acceptable for our application, so we do not recommend using Office 2013, 2016 or 365. As a note, if you are a Microsoft Enterprise customer (most churches are not), Microsoft does offer the old fashioned MSI (large, all-at-once) installer for Office and it works very well. But, this option is not available to non-Enterprise customers (the majority of users out there).
We recommend Office 2010 for the simple reason that when you install it you have all of it, and it works. There are Click-to-Run installers for 2010 but switching to the MSI installer is an easy process through Microsoft. We have contacted Microsoft to offer the MSI option to all customers, but unfortunately, there hasn't been any traction on this. In the meantime, we are exploring other options to serve our PowerPoint users without relying on purchasing a specific version of Office. We aren't giving up yet and we appreciate any prayers and thoughts on us finding a better solution.