Excel:mac 2008 performance issues

Excel:mac 2008 performance issues

Summary: On PowerPage Podcast Episode 71 I discussed the sluggish behavior of MacBook Air and slowdowns in Microsoft Excel:mac 2008.A colleague (Joe Gudac) doesn't think that the problem is related to the MacBook Air.

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Excel:mac 2008 performance issuesOn PowerPage Podcast Episode 71 I discussed the sluggish behavior of MacBook Air and slowdowns in Microsoft Excel:mac 2008.

A colleague (Joe Gudac) doesn't think that the problem is related to the MacBook Air. He's run into the same problem on an iMac (2.4GHz with 4GB) and MacBook Pro (2.2GHz with 4GB) but not on an older iMac (2.16GHz with 3GB).

For me the problem is with Excel files (usually created on Windows) that I open from a Windows Small Business Server 2003. After a couple of minutes there's a noticeable lag while typing and tabbing between cells. If I type a few characters, tab, type, tab, type, tab it will sometimes still be typing in the first cell when I'm in the fourth. Eventually it catches up, but I have to stop typing for a while. New files opened locally perform normally.

I also have incredible problems printing many Excel 2008 files to a Lexmark E240 printer (driver version 10.5.0.0), many times the files (created on Windows, opened from the SBS 2003 server) crash Excel on print. I thought that the Office 2008 12.0.1 update fixed the problem, but it still crashes Excel on print.

I took a look at Activity Monitor on several of my Macs and I noticed a process running named "kernel_task."

Activity MonitorÂ’s kernel_task process

I hoping to blame kernel_task for my laggy Excel 2008 performance problems but it has more to do with Safari plug-in bloat. It is one of the more resource intensive processes inside of Mac OS X, runs at process number (PID) 0 and eats virtual memory like it's going out of style but it doesn't appear to be what's hobbling Excel.

Topics: Microsoft, Apple, Collaboration, Hardware, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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13 comments
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  • not just Excel

    All of Office 2008 is slow, even when compared to Office
    2004 running under Rosetta. Terribly disappointed except for
    the fact that I use iWork much more anyway.
    russguill
  • I wonder if this is from OS X's hidden APIs?

    [url=http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/02/28/2339246&from=rss[/i]

    It has recently come to light that Safari uses hidden, undocumented APIs in OS X to cripple the competition (Firefox). I wonder if Apple is using hidden APIs in iWorks to make it faster than Office? Considering their recent anti-competitive moves where they actually [b]replace your browser with Safari when you install iTunes[/b], this wouldn't surprise me in the least.
    NonZealot
    • Oops, formatting error

      [url=http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/02/28/2339246&from=rss] Safari uses hidden APIs to appear faster than Firefox [/url]

      It has recently come to light that Safari uses hidden, undocumented APIs in OS X to cripple the competition (Firefox). I wonder if Apple is using hidden APIs in iWorks to make it faster than Office? Considering their recent anti-competitive moves where they actually [b]replace your browser with Safari when you install iTunes[/b], this wouldn't surprise me in the least.
      NonZealot
      • Full of hot air.

        If this were true, than office 2004 would have the same
        problems which it doesn't. More hot air from you with no
        substance. The problem is with Office 2008, an MS product!
        themusicmanrk
  • Constructive Criticism: This is what the Air Diary was supposed to be about

    I'm not trying to be a jerk, but isn't this the kind of stuff that your "Macbook Air Diary" should have been all about? You called it a "diary" so, as readers, we were expecting daily opinions on what works and what doesn't. But instead we got a bunch of fluff articles about cases, the F8 key, magsafe and spec sheets.

    I think your discussion on the podcast and this article are great, but at the same time it's a bit disappointing because it would have been so much better to have these kind of real-world problems get discussed and tackled in your diary when it actually bothered you rather than 2 months later.
    Urkel
  • RE: Excel:mac 2008 performance issues

    I was doing some research into kernel_task and I see the
    graphic you used to illustrate what you imply is your system's
    activity is the same graphic found at http://bleepsoft.com/tyler/index.php?itemid=43.

    I can understand why you may not want to reveal the processes
    on your system, but you should identify and give proper credit
    to the graphic's source.

    kernel_task, and what little I know I know from having visited
    the url above, is a stand-in for the lower level Mach/BSD
    activity. Right now, my kernel_task numbers are 144.2 MB Real
    Memory and 1.11 GB Virtual Memory. With my idle metric at
    roughly 97%, the 1.11 GB number is not so important. Safari is
    using more resources at 283.5 MB Real (its virtual tally is 1.23
    GB). I'm not sure what the relationship of user processes to
    kernel_ext resource consumption would be.

    Any way, my suspicion is that it's a red herring among the
    clues to the mystery of Excel:2008's apparent slow down. Dang
    it, where are the meddling kids when you need them?
    DannyO_0x98
  • TOTAL misrepresentation

    you should read the actual source article before shooting off your mouth. it states:

    "Slashdot seems to have picked up on this, and in typical style, has completely misunderstood the post. To be clear, I do not think that Apple is in any way trying to purposely "cripple" non-Apple software. I also do not think that undocumented APIs give Safari any kind of "significant performance advantage""

    and is located at:
    http://blog.vlad1.com/2008/02/28/finding-the-os-x-turbo-button/
    lostarchitect
    • oops, meant to reply to nonzealot. [n/t]

      .
      lostarchitect
      • don't feed him

        NonZealot's here to just to get Apple users worked up. Just
        ignore him and only pay attention to constructive comments.
        russguill
  • Curious about the Plug-In Bloat.

    The link you provided was nearly two years old - a full year
    before Safari 3 was introduced.

    Do the Java and Flash plug-ins still eat up that much
    memory? Perhaps that's why they're unlikely to show up on
    the iPhone.
    msalzberg
  • RE: Excel:mac 2008 performance issues

    Idunno, I've got Excel, Entourage, Word, Office Reminders and
    My Day (all Office 2008), Photoshop CS3 Extended, Acrobat
    Pro 8, Bento, Firefox beta 4, Safari with 33 windows and
    probably 20 tabs, Documents To Go, Splash ID Desktop and
    Application Monitor running on my MacBook 2,16 w/ 2GB
    RAM right now. I don't see no steenkin' kernel task
    (although I have seen it in the past)
    BMWTwisty
    • Recent Experience

      I just traded in my (almost 7-year-old Titanium G4 PowerBook for a new version 2.6GHz MacBookPro and with the idea of taking advantage of the Intel Processor, purchased Microsoft Office 2008. Like some of you others, I was disappointed with the performance of Word and Entourage - both of which seem less responsive than MS Office 2004 running on my old machine. I know there's more going on "under the hood" but slower start up times and occasional program quits are certainly more prevalent now.
      macintoshman2@...
  • RE: Excel:mac 2008 performance issues

    What about getting some discussions going on Office:Mac 2008. This weekend I had to uninstall 2008 and downgrade to 2004; I found it that poorly designed of a product. I think the reason you haven't heard more is that there is such a huge delay in delivery but after people start working with it, I'm thinking there are going to be some complaints.

    We work a lot with macros and Excel 2008 no longer supports them. That's a major change that seems to have gotten very little recognition. MS says Applescript is the answer but I have yet succeeded in creating a routine like in VBA. And now I find out that Entourage 2008 doesn't support syncing with a Palm device. Holy Moses, MS should start sending out stone tablets and chisels with their latest releases.
    Norm.Shea@...