Embed Video in PowerPoint for Playback on Windows and Mac OS X

Have you ever tried to embed video files in PowerPoint? If you managed to do that, have you ever tried to play that presentation on other PCs or even on a mac? It’s a pain in the ass. I haven’t yet reached the point to say it’s impossible, but at least I can say it’s far from being easy.

The background: If you want the presentation to work out of the box, on every machine, you need to choose a video format that every OS can play by default. This means:

  • you can’t use MP4 or any other QuickTime format because QuickTime might not be installed on Windows PCs
  • you can’t use WMV formats for the same reason, just on the mac side this time
  • you can embed SWF files and flash can be played back on Windows and Mac OS, but because it relies on third party software as well, PowerPoint can only embed SWFs in the Windows version, using ActiveX controls. These are not available on PowerPoint Mac which means the embedded SWF in a PPT created on Windows won’t play when you open the PPT on a Mac
  • Of course you can’t use Matroska/DivX/Xvid/other special codecs because that would require a codec pack, otherwise the video won’t play
  • You can’t even use MPEG2 because at least Windows PCs can’t play it by default

So I think the only way to do it is to use MPEG1. This means big file sizes and low quality – which clearly sucks.

Do you know a better solution? I don’t…

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