Gmail PowerPoint Preview
What happens is that whenever someone sends you a PowerPoint attachment, you can instantly open it in a new browser window by clicking “view as slideshow” to then go through the pages via the arrow buttons on top. (You can also right-click the slideshow, which is Flash-based, to open a context-menu which allows you to automatically play the presentation, among other features.)
Google already supports web previews for Word documents and Excel sheets as part of their Google Docs & Spreadsheets program. You can see the pattern here – with every new instant preview, users have less reason to actually buy Microsoft Office. (Naturally, Google’s tools are far from a full replacement so far, but there may still be users out there who don’t need all MS Office features, but just got MS Office because they want to open all those files they’re receiving.) And while at this time, Google doesn’t allow you to actually edit & create slideshows, they did announce that such a presentation tool would come by this summer.
At the moment, there are no ads to be seen in the new slideshow window (neither are there ads next to the Google Docs or Spreadsheets file you’re editing). But perhaps in some years, we’ll see context-sensitive ads being rolled out for Google’s office suite. The privacy implications – or rather non-implications, for most part – would be similar to what happened when Gmail released context-aware ads: some people will be worried that Google now “reads your presentations,” even though they already do the moment you’re sending something through or storing it at their server.
[Thanks Orli Yakuel, Raghu and David Hetfield!]