Over the past couple of years Google has been working hard to chip away at the empire of Microsoft, particularly by creating online alternatives to Microsoft Word. Googledocs, and Googlespreadsheets offer good alternatives to Microsoft, with several advantages: primarily cost (Google is free), but also you can edit your files from any computer, and have the ability to share them with others.
Google has now created an alternative to my least favorite Microsoft Tool-Powerpoint. With Google Presentation. If you already have already been using GoogleDocs, you can access Presentation easily. In fact Presentation seems to be just part of docs. When in Google Docs you select New and (instead of Spreadsheet or Document) select Presentation. It’s that simple (as with most things Google). The interface for creating a slideshow works and looks a lot like Powerpoint (this is both a good and a bad thing, good in so much as it makes the transition easy, bad as in Powerpoint has serious problems). While some of the features are limited, Google Presentations has some serious advantages already over PowerPoint, namely the ability to share your slides easily with others, without emailing the files around or using Slideshare.
And, here is the killer feature for academics, it integrates with Google Talk, which means as long as others have a Google account everyone can log in an follow along with the presentation.
You can also read more about it at the Google Blog complete with a how-to.
Warning, this doesn’t work with Safari or other Webkit Browsers, so you will need Firefox.