Cisco seems to have given up on making its presentation sharing mode work with any reasonably current version of PowerPoint. Details coming up, but first a few facts.
It is hard to get accurate market share figures for presentation software, but nobody would argue against Microsoft PowerPoint having the majority by a significant margin. A 2012 Bloomberg article by Bob Parks references a 95% share of the presentation software market (no source given). So proper handling and display of PowerPoint slides is critical for a web collaboration tool.
WebEx allows two ways to show PowerPoint slides to participants in a web meeting or webinar. One method is to share your desktop. What you see on your screen shows up on your attendees' screens. The other method has you upload your PowerPoint file to the conference room. Slides are converted for navigation and display in the web session.
Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. Either may be more suitable in a given meeting depending upon circumstances and preferences.
I usually prefer to load slides into the room rather than use screen sharing. With slides uploaded, you know there is no lag time between what you see as presenter and what the attendees see (slide images are cached for fast display). You can use WebEx presenter tools that let you preview thumbnail images of the slides and access them out of sequence. You can switch presenter control for who gets to navigate through the slides with no interruption or visible difference for attendees. And most importantly, once the slides are in the room, the presentation can continue to be driven by an alternate presenter even if the host gets disconnected.
In screen sharing mode you run the risk of unexpected visuals showing up in the display area. The person sharing the content must stay connected and must have fast and reliable uplink internet bandwidth. And unless you have a dual-monitor setup, you can have a hard time splitting screen space and working with controls such as chat panels, slide navigation, presenter notes, and so on.
WebEx has their own proprietary conversion algorithm for uploaded PowerPoint slides. I have no idea how it works. But it brings us back to the main point of this piece.
According to Cisco's WebEx support team and online Knowledge Base, PowerPoint 2010 is the only version of PowerPoint fully supported for file upload and sharing. With PowerPoint 2013 and 2016, WebEx converts slides to static images, throwing away all builds, animations, and transitions.
I was astonished to find that it doesn't matter which version of PowerPoint was used to create the slide deck. And you can't get around the issue by saving the presentation into the older 2003-compatible .PPT format. WebEx uses the version of PowerPoint loaded on the uploading computer… I guess it must call on some code in the Microsoft software during the upload process.
You can still choose to share your slides by running the PowerPoint on your computer in slideshow mode and sharing your monitor or application. But you have to accept the other limitations that go along with screen sharing - And you lose the ability to hear audio in embedded multimedia clips on slides (something the upload/convert process was previously able to accommodate).
Microsoft introduced PowerPoint 2013 in January 2013. PowerPoint 2016 was released for Windows in September 2015. That means WebEx is now behind the curve by two releases and a full three years. At this point, that's not a delay… It's a strategic decision.