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It took me a while to "get it" too. Yoiu can take a look at Adobe's spin on things from the blog site maintained by Silke Fleicher from Adobe at:
Sike Fleicher Blog
But the real truth of this is that they are quite different:
-Captivate Excels at computer software simulations, software demos and software learning simulations (where the user gets to try a simulation test.)
-Captivate is a stand-alone application and not an add-in to powerpoint
-Captivate does let you import PowerPoint slides
-Captivate creates a stand-alone CP file to store your setups and then you publish to Flash, Word, Acrobat
-Captivate does not produce a side-panel to show progress, but it does provide a wide range of progress bars and related forward and back button options and positions
-Presenter is an add-in to PowerPoint
-Presenter has an optional navigation panel to show progress, but it has limited forward and back navigation button options.
-Presenter is more like PowerPoint, but you gain Quiz sets or single Quiz options and the ability to integrate and embed Flash content such as Captivate SWF files as a slide set. For example you can have a PowerPointesque look with a navigation pane on the left or right and then present the user with a video or software simulation on another slide and then Quiz the user about the materials or demo.
I would consider Presenter to be about as hard as learning how to use PowerPoint, but all of the options are now on one menu.
I would consider Captivate to be about as hard as learning to use Excel, where the basics are easy, but there are many options.
For Software demos and simulations, Captivate is the better choice.
For Quiz-Enabled PowerPoint, Presenter 7 is the better choice
For e-learning of Software, you can use juset Captivate, but both products make a good team
Finally, while Adobe charges a bit too much $$$$ for each, the cost is recouped with the time you save on a large project. If the products were 1/2 of the list price, they would probably sell 10X the number of copies and create some real BUZZ about these products for the group of people that are not e-learning professionals (a huge group).
The final piece is a system that integrates the Quiz results for user login and score tracking. Known as a Learning Management System (LMS). Both Presenter 7 and Captivate export to Adobe's Connect system in Connect format and they also publish to SCORM or AICC formats used by other systems. However, the cost of the Connect system for LMS (not the live presentation piece, just the e-learning piece) is well beyond reach for a small company (about 3X the price of other products). The 40% annual maintenance fee charges, limited feature set and slow to fix it support make Connect about a grade "C" compared to the competition. Adobe can do far better to make Connect the LMS tool that it could be in terms of features, price and bug repairs. So if you need a LMS to go with this, then you should certainly look at Connect and price it (it is nice), but look at what you could get elsewhere for both features and support at a given price point.