What’s That App? A Beginner’s Guide to Microsoft Sway

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Microsoft Sway
Image credit: Microsoft.com

Executive Summary

  • Our What’s That App? series on the Get Support blog delves into the detail of those lesser-known apps, many of which are available with Microsoft 365.
  • In this edition, we’ll introduce you to Microsoft Sway – the almost-forgotten little brother of PowerPoint and FrontPage.
  • Microsoft Sway is a free drag-and-drop creation tool built to help users create rich presentations such as reports, newsletters, and web pages with content from different sources.

Introduction

Sometimes, Microsoft’s approach to software is pretty straightforward.

Microsoft Word helps you write. Microsoft Excel helps you calculate. Microsoft PowerPoint helps you present.

So… what about Microsoft Sway? If you’ve never heard of it, don’t worry – you’re not the only one. And, based on Microsoft’s own recent history with the app, it seems like they might be forgetting all about Sway soon, too.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Let’s jump in, take a closer look at Microsoft Sway, and discover whether or not it can offer your business any value.

What is Microsoft Sway?

Developed internally at Microsoft, and originally launched in 2015, Microsoft Sway is billed as a presentation program.

Put simply, it allows users to pull content – like images and video – from various sources and place them onto a digital canvas (known as a Storyline) which is then formatted by Sway for visual appeal.

It’s essentially a way to create great-looking newsletters, reports, and one-pager websites quickly and without any coding knowledge. With this focus on simplicity, Sway offers three layouts (Vertical, Horizontal, and Slideshow) which users can switch between anytime. The content will rearrange dynamically to account for this change.

Sway also offers a ‘Remix!’ button, which will reshuffle all the content in the Storyline at random.

Unusually for a lot of modern Microsoft apps, Sway does not require a Microsoft 365 subscription (although some of its features do).

How could Microsoft Sway help your business?

Perhaps the biggest draw of Microsoft Sway is its ability to pull content from any online source, then drag it to the canvas for use in a project.

This, in combination with its ‘done for you’ approach to design, makes Sway an attractive alternative to other options such as PowerPoint, which require a lot more work to make appealing designs.

Using its ‘Insert’ menu, users can choose from a number of online content sources, including OneDrive (as part of a Microsoft 365 subscription), Flickr, Bing Images, PickIt, YouTube, Twitter, and more. Sway also integrates with Microsoft OneNote.

In addition to these rich media sources, you can also place interactive elements into a Sway design, including:

  • A form to ask questions or track responses
  • A stack of images users can click through a though they were a pile of photographs.
  • An image comparison tool which users can mouseover interactively.
  • A slideshow which users can click through one at a time.

Once a Sway is completed, you can share it with external or internal users using a simple shareable link – and set permissions so that only certain people can see it.

In this way, your business could create internal newsletters, announcements, or other forms of interactive digital experiences.

How to start using Microsoft Sway

Microsoft Sway is free of charge to everyone with a Microsoft account, so you can start using it right away. The only aspects you’ll need a Microsoft 365 to access is the OneDrive integration – otherwise it’s available to all.

Whether you should start using it, though? That’s another question.

The reason is that there are some question-marks hanging over the future of Microsoft Sway.

Here are some key events from the last few years which might give some insight:

  • An iOS mobile app for Sway was released in 2014, then removed from the app store in 2018 due to “low usage”. It is apparently no longer in active development.
  • Microsoft has not released any updates or news about Sway since the app’s retirement in 2018.
  • There is no mention of Microsoft Sway on the Microsoft Office or Microsoft 365 Roadmap.

So… should your business start using Microsoft Sway? It’s your call, of course, but don’t be surprised if Microsoft suddenly decides to ‘sunset’ the app in the coming months or years.

Want an IT support company that won’t leave you behind?

It’s clear that Microsoft Sway might have had its day in the sun, but there’s still plenty to get excited about for small businesses with Microsoft 365.

If you haven’t yet dipped your toe into the possibilities, get in touch with our expert team today and we’ll give you a guided tour of the huge variety of 100% supported apps (with the roadmaps to prove it) which a Microsoft 365 subscription brings with it.

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