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SlideRocket isn't yet PowerPoint's undoing. But it might be

The presentations software beta opens up to the public today, allowing millions of users to finally compare it to Microsoft's PowerPoint. This one bears close watching.

Almost one year ago to the day, a start-up called SlideRocket began a private beta of its Web-based presentation creation service. With the company opening up its beta test to the public today, legions of frustrated PowerPoint users around the world must wonder whether their digital deliverance is not far away.

At first blush, the odds are against these guys having much impact. It's a young company, after all, and who has the spare cash to pay for Jerry Seinfeld television spots. (Though judging from Microsoft's uneven success with its latest batch of TV ads, that's hardly any guarantee of rave success.

But here's what I like about SlideRocket: This very Web-friendly application offers quite a creative alternative to PowerPoint, a steadfast albeit boring product that inspires more moans than a porn flick. If I've insulted any die-hard PowerPoint fans--all twenty seven of you--sorry, but the application reminds me of liver and onions: a dish which dutifully serves the purpose, but you wouldn't be caught dead serving it at a dinner party.

SlideRocket's designers have done a nice job with the graphics options and special effects that users can add to their slide show images. The support for multimedia (including video) is an additional nice touch. You can also include slides from a media pool shared by people you include as collaborators on the presentation. For an in-depth look at the product, check out the reviewturned in by my colleague, Josh Lowensohn.

I don't need to remind anyone that things are tough out there, and wouldn't it be a shame if this company didn't get a fair shake? As a user, I'm ready for something with a bit more sizzle. With enough time, I think SlideRocket could give Microsoft a serious run in the presentations software business. The wild card is capital. So it is that I have to wonder how long before the folks from Adobe start sniffing around. No secret that Adobe has big ambitions and increasingly bumps heads with Microsoft. What with its flashy (Flexy) Web-based tools, SlideRocket already speaks a common language with Adobe.

Bottom line: This one bears close watching.