What IT Admins need to know about modern comments in PowerPoint

We've started rolling out a new comments experience for current versions of PowerPoint. There are some important things for IT administrators to know about this feature, and how to turn it on. 

Note: Modern comments aren't currently available for Microsoft 365 Family and Personal.

Last updated; May 23, 2020 

Summary

  • The new commenting experience answers several popular feature requests and significantly improves collaboration. More details

    • A comment will now anchor to objects. If you move the object, the comment goes with it.

    • You can now mark threads of comments as resolved. Resolved comments don't appear in the margin, but can still be seen in the Comments Pane.

    • Modern comments can only be edited by the person who created them.

    • New commenting controls makes it easier to find and add new comments.

    • Improved notification emails let recipients see the context of the comment and reply directly from the email if they want to.

  • Initially, the improved modern comments experience will be turned off by default. To make it available for people in your organization, you'll need to turn it on via group policy manager or OCPS. More details

  • Modern comments can't be read by older versions of PowerPoint. Someone with PowerPoint 2019 or older subscription versions will be notified that there are comments in the file their current version of PowerPoint doesn't support, and prompted to open the presentation in PowerPoint for the web where they can review the modern comments. For a list of the older subscription builds, see the table below in the section When will I see modern comments?

So how does this work?

Modern comments will be supported in PowerPoint for Microsoft 365 on Windows or macOS, PowerPoint for Android, PowerPoint for iOS, and PowerPoint for the web. 

Microsoft 365, Android, iOS, and web

When someone who has modern comments turned on for them adds comments to a file that doesn't have existing comments, the new comments are added as modern comments. If they add comments to a file that already had existing comments, they'll continue to have the previous commenting experience in that file. Turning on modern comments doesn't upgrade any files that already have comments in them.

Someone who doesn't have modern comments turned on for them will continue to see the previous commenting experience in new files, or for existing files that don't already have any modern comments. They'll still be able to read and add modern comments in files that already have modern comments in them.

Other versions of PowerPoint

If someone with PowerPoint 2019 or older subscription versions opens a file that contains modern comments, a notification appears advising them to use PowerPoint for the web to view or work with the comments. If they're using one of these versions and don't see the notification, ensure that they have the latest updates installed.

Note: This will also happen for someone with PowerPoint for Microsoft 365 who doesn't have the latest updates installed, or who is on a channel (such as Semi-Annual Enterprise) where new features are released less often.

Enabling modern comments

By default, creating new modern comments is turned off for enterprise installations. As we discussed above, that means that if someone in your organization opens a file that has no comments in it already, any new comments they add will be the traditional type of comments. 

To get the full value of the new commenting experience, you'll want to turn on modern comments for the people in your organization.

To turn on modern comments for your entire organization, or for one or more specific subgroups, open the OCPS portal, and turn on Use modern comments in PowerPoint.

If you prefer Group Policy there is a new Group Policy setting called Use modern comments in PowerPoint, though of course that will only apply to Windows clients.

Tips: 

  • We recommend turning on modern comments for your entire organization in order to minimize backwards compatibility issues that could arise if people with different settings are collaborating.

  • If you have a large number of people still running older builds of PowerPoint, you may want to wait until they've updated to the current build to turn on modern comments.

When will I see modern comments?

The following table shows a detailed breakdown of the modern comments experience across different endpoints and versions of PowerPoint. 

Dropped on merge

Merge, but no controls (no warning)

Warning and prompt to open in web, no controls

Read and write in existing files with modern comments

Create new files with modern comments

Win32 Insiders Fast

All older builds

16.0.7911.1000

16.0.11416.10000

16.0.12624.20126

16.0.12730.20010

Win32 Insiders Slow

All older builds

16.0.7911.1000

16.0.11513.10000

16.0.12624.20126

16.0.12730.20010

Win32 Prod CC

All older builds

Win32 Prod CC All older builds

16.0.11513.10000

16.0.12624.20126

16.0.12827.20298

Win32 SA

All older builds

16.0.7911.1000

16.0.11328.20502

16.0.13127.20360

16.0.13127.20360

Win32 SAT

All older builds

16.0.7911.1000

16.0.11929.20558

TBD

TBD

Win32 SAExt

All older builds

16.0.7911.1000

16.0.11328.20512

TBD

TBD

Win32 2019

All older builds

February 2017

16.0.10354.20016

16.0.10365.20006

n/a

Win32 2016

All older builds

PU.2017.06.13

(16.0.4549.1000)

16.0.4266.1001 plus patches:

KB4484216

KB4484168

n/a

n/a

Win32 2013

All older builds

PU.2017.07.11

(15.0.4945.1000)

n/a

n/a

n/a

Mac Prod CC

All older builds

February 2017

16.24.312.0

16.35.308.0

16.38.607.0

Mac 2019

All older builds

February 2017

16.16.20021000

16.40.20073000

n/a

Mac 2016

All older builds

June 2017

16.16.20021000

n/a

n/a

Mac 2011

All older builds

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Web Prod

n/a

n/a

n/a

Turned on

Turned on

iOS Insiders

All older builds

2.19

2.25.506

2.36

2.39

iOS Prod

All older builds

2.19

2.25.506

2.37

2.40

Android Insiders

All older builds

16.0.11029.10000

16.0.11629.20124

16.12624.20000

16.13029.20000

Android Prod

All older builds

16.0.11029.10000

16.0.11629.20124

16.12730.20000

16.13127.20000

What's next?

As the feature rolls out we'll be listening to your feedback to see how well it's working for you and your organization. At some point in the future, when we're confident that the feature is working well, we'll start turning it on by default.

Eventually, we'll remove the OCPS control, too, and the modern commenting experience will just be everyone's commenting experience.

We're listening!

We need your feedback to continue to improve this experience. If you have suggestions for how we can do better, please let us know at pptcommentsfeedback@microsoft.com

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