2.0 is here, but is it a pig? 2.0 is here, but is it a pig?

Summary: 2.0 is finally out with much fanfare, but is it a memory and resource hog?

TOPICS: Tech Industry
322 2.0 is finally out with much fanfare, but is it a memory and resource hog?  This is what I was wondering when I did this shootout last month between Microsoft Excel 2003 and 1.1.4 Calc.  The backers of immediately complained that I didn't test their new Beta2.  I immediately added the Beta2 results, and then the backers of complained that I was comparing Beta software to production software.  Now that 2.0 is finally out, I've put it to the test again to see if the shipping version really makes a difference.

File creation and file load times for Excel and Calc:

 Calc 2.0 ODSCalc 2.0 SXCExcel 2003 XLSExcel 2003 XMLExcel 2003 ZIP XML
Create179 sec184 sec1 sec13 sec18 sec
Load141 sec161 sec2 sec38 sec47 sec
RAM used234,496 KB232,932 KB89,164

Note: ZIP XML isn't an actual file format, it's just a zipped Microsoft XML file.  The next version of Office 12 will use a compressed XML format so ZIP XML is meant to simulate compressed XML.  Since SXC and ODS are compressed XML formats, this also makes the comparison times fair.  You can download this compressed 16-sheet MS-XML file and run the tests on your own. users can download this 16-sheet SXC if they just want to test Calc performance.  Both files have identical data.

As you can see, and XML in general is extremely slow compared to the native Microsoft XLS binary file format.  Not only is it slow, it also chews up the CPU.  My computer happens to be a 3.4 GHz hyper threaded processor and the physical CPU was being taxed at 100% during the 2 to 3 minutes it took to open the Open Document files.  Had this been a lesser CPU, the file load and creation times would have been much lower.

The other big issue is how much RAM Calc takes to have the exact same data loaded as Microsoft Excel. is clearly a CPU and Memory hog.  To get an idea of how much memory the entire suite takes, I did this memory footprint comparison of all the Office applications.

Memory requirements of base application (no data load):

ApplicationMemory footprintProcesses measured
Write37,660 KBsoffice.bin & soffice.exe
Calc37,544 KBsoffice.bin & soffice.exe
Impress44,788 KBsoffice.bin & soffice.exe
Base36,036 KBsoffice.bin & soffice.exe
Word9,812 KBWinWord.exe
Excel7,102 KBExcel.exe
PowerPoint6,884 KBPowerPNT.exe
Access7,302 KBMSAccess.exe

As you can see, takes up a lot more RAM to load than Microsoft Office applications.  While it's true that the applications will share memory with each other, Microsoft Office applications will also share RAM with each other.  RAM consumption rises rapidly for both Microsoft Office and as soon as data is loaded, still takes significantly more RAM than Microsoft Office.  The difference in memory utilization is shown in both the bare application comparison and even more so with the large 16-sheet spreadsheet loaded.  Also note that the Base application requires Java Runtime Engine for many of its features so the RAM requirement shoots even higher.

I've emailed last month asking them if they would like to explain the severe performance difference but I haven't heard anything back yet.

Topic: Tech Industry

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  • Ram $ < Software $

    Hey buddy. You forgot one thing.

    For $320.95 of MS Office 2003 Pro I could buy 2 gig of cas 2 ddr400 and still have money to spare. Heck, I could put together a system to run OpenOffice for the price of Office Pro.
    • What about the speed

      I have 1 GB RAM and a 3.4 GHz processor. This file is painfully slow.
      • Your results are bogus

        I'm sitting here launching these apps side by side with a paltry 512 meg of RAM and it's not taking anything close to the times you listed.

        Blank docs, spreadsheets with data in them and I'm telling you you're doing something to handicap your results. I'm sitting here doing it as we speak and it's not taking that much longer than Office products. Even the beta is faster than you're claiming.

        Easy enough to prove it yourself. Download OpenOffice and run your own tests. You'll see these results are bogus and you might discover some nice features in OO.

        Now if you want to launch a real resource hog light off Visual Studio .NET 2003. That really does take closer to 3 minutes.
        • Wow what did you do to your system?

          "Now if you want to launch a real resource hog light off Visual Studio .NET 2003. That really does take closer to 3 minutes."

          My launch time is about 2.5 seconds.
        • tested it myself

          OK, I get 2 very different stories from George Ou and from Chad, so I decided to test it myself. Here's what I used:

          A Dell D600 Laptop, 1.6 GHz Pentium M, 512MB RAM

          Fresh load of Windows 2000 Pro, patched to SP4 and all available MS patches.

          Running un background, Outlook 2002, a Terminal Services session, 1 instance of IE, 1 instance of Firefox with 3 tabs open. Same sites on the browsers for both tests.

          This seems like a pretty good test of it, simulating a real-world business use type of environment.

          I am going to test opening both applications, then test them opening my largest spreadsheet. I have my spreadsheets stored on a network share, I am attached to a Windows 2003 Domain using 1000MB ethernet.

          Open Application:
          Excel 2003 2 seconds
          OpenOffice 2.0 Calc 2 seconds

          Opening a 3.3 MB .xls spreadsheet
          Excel 2003 4 seconds
          OpenOffice 2.0 Calc 37 seconds

          A 356k .xls spreadsheet (More like what most of us use)
          Excel 2003 1 second
          OpenOffice 2.0 Calc 2 seconds

          OK, Maybe Excel has an advantage using it's native format, so I then told each app to save the 356k Excel spreadsheet using the .xml format, since it seems to be the only one besides .xls they shared.
          Excel saved it fine, OpenOffice said it couldn't save it because I didn't have a JRE, even though I have the latest Sun JRE installed. I'll reinstall the JRE, just for kicks.

          OK, after the JRE reinstall, saving works.

          Saving in XML:
          Excel 2003 356k becomes 1112k takes 1 second
          OpenOffice 2.0 Calc 356k becomes 1300k, takes 17 seconds

          Opening the 1112k xml file created by Excel 2003:
          Excel 2003 2 seconds
          OpenOffice 2.0 Calc 18 seconds

          opening the 1300k xml file created by OpenOffice 2.0:
          Excel 2003 2 seconds
          OpenOffice 2.0 Calc 16 seconds

          Based on my tests, George is right, OpenOffice does take longer. It seems to be particularly worse with large files.
          • Nice work

            You could be a blogger, you did a much better job of explaining what you were doing, what was going on, etc. etc....
          • Try this...

            Use MSOffice 2003 to export to PDF or SWF files.
          • a non MS product a resource hog.. Oh no.

            Office sweets are passe these days, but it is quite funny watching the anti MS camp build feature rich applications (which is good) and run into the resource hog problem. Its not so easy building feature rich complex apps is it?

            Maybe you should go back to the command tools and green screens, I mean after all, its no resource hog. Right Novell?
          • OpenOffice is slow...

            ... but nowhere near the ridiculous figures given in the original article. 180 seconds?! I'd say this benchmark was probably closer to the truth.

            The new versions of OpenOffice are, however, definitely a lot faster compared to the old. Let's hope that soon enough, it gets to MS Office standards. Or possibly not, depending how MS Office achieves those standards...

            Still, the extra ~15 seconds loading time is definitely worth saving the price of a copy of MS Office, especially if you use multiple platforms in your business rather than running purely on Windows. There's one place MS Office will never beat OpenOffice: portability.
        • Your results are bogus

          I don't really care about the OO vs Microsoft argument.

          But your comment about Visual Studio .NET is really bogus. I'm a .NET programmer and I use VS every day. On my slowest machine at home (1.5 Ghz), running Server 2003, VS takes about 18 seconds to load. At my workplace, where the machines are even slower, it takes about 30 seconds to load.
    • 1000 Donkeys

      ...and I could buy 1000 Donkeys for the price of your Lexus!

      Oh damn, I'm late for work...go donkey go!
      • WTF

        Lots of fast memory is to bloated software
        Donkey is to Lexus

        Did you fail the ACTs?
        Try again fool.
  • The TRUE numbers

    soffice.bin writer in linux: 249'976kb
    MSword with wine: 2'504'036kb
    Notepad with wine: 644'448kb
    so Word total: 1'859'588kb (MSword-Notepad)
    So, Word uses about 7 times more memory space the OpenOffice.
    • Not using emulation on

      No VM is used on It's native Win32 code. Brining up wine is just whining.
      • Agreed... Who cares (NT)

      • I think the point...

        I think the point was, the figures he provided are about as accurate as yours were. Its difficult to make a comparison as windows preloads many different office modules when it boots just as it does with Internet Explorer. You'll notice a load lag on Mozilla products on windows machines compared to Internet Explorer. The memory drain is also tied to this. Its difficult to tell exactly what is "loaded" when you open up Word or Excel. I'm not advocating one or the other but it seems that for those tests it is somewhat difficult to determine which wins. Large file loading is a whole different animal and I think your numbers are probably pretty spot on.
        • OSA.EXE

          Office includes an app called OSA.EXE which by default it installs to the Startup folder. I know on older versions of Windows, this app would stay running and thus was likely used to pre-load office components into memory.

          On my system (Windows XP and Office XP), OSA.EXE is in the Startup folder, but it does not stay running (it isn't in my tak list). So whatever its purpose is today, it isn't for pre-loading office components.

          Any large application could use this technique to pre-load components--Adobe Reader 7 (a large app if ever I saw one) does it (unless you delete the program from Startup, which I've done).

          For the most part, these techniques won't be needed with Windows Vista -- Vista's new SuperFetch feature will analyze what programs you use often and pre-load their files, regardless of what program they are.
          • I disable all quickstart cheats

            Good old MSCONFIG whacks all that junk. I hate pre-load cheats. Every ISV on the planet seems to think the startup is their trash can.
          • Does MSCONFIG also turn off and reverse the built-in disk optimizations? nt

          • Which disk optimizations are you referring to? (NT)