Microsoft: OpenDocument is too slow

Microsoft: OpenDocument is too slow

Summary: The Office maker has taken a swing at the open source format, but the ODF Alliance says Microsoft's Open XML is not yet supported by any application so its performance can't even be measured


The OpenDocument Format (ODF) has come under attack from Microsoft, which claims its Office Open XML format has significantly better performance.

"The use of OpenDocument documents is slower to the point of not really being satisfactory," Alan Yates, the general manager of Microsoft’s information worker strategy, told ZDNet UK on Wednesday. "The Open XML format is designed for performance. XML is fundamentally slower than binary formats so we have made sure that customers won't notice a big difference in performance."

Yates cited a study carried out by that compared 2.0 with the XML formats in Microsoft Office 2003. But Marino Marcich, the managing director of the ODF Alliance, claimed this was not a fair comparison as it was not testing Open XML itself and only examined one implementation of ODF.

"There's simply no Open XML product on the market yet to compare performance," he said. "ODF is supported and implemented not just by OpenOffice but by multiple applications including StarOffice, IBM Workplace, KOffice, Abiword/Gnumeric and Google Writely. All these applications have different performance behaviours."

He added that was not initially optimised for ODF, but will be in the future.

Marcich said Open XML is harder for vendors to implement as it has more than 4,000 pages of documentation, compared with 700 for ODF.

"A sceptic might say the documentation is so long so only one application will support it well," he said. "On my initial reading of the [Open XML] documentation it looks like Microsoft are trying to reinvent the wheel, while ODF freely refers to existing standards like SVG."

But Yates said the Open XML documentation is longer because it is covering more functionality.

"The documentation is so much deeper than that for the OpenDocument format -- it represents much more functionality, many more options and a deeper, richer customer experience," Yates said.

Earlier this month the international standards body ISO approved ODF, a move Gartner predicted would thwart Microsoft's chances of getting Open XML approved by ISO.

Yates disagreed with Gartner's analysis and claimed there was "plenty of room for multiple document formats".

"[The Gartner analysis] was very surprising and ill-informed," he said. "We've encouraged the analysts to gather more data and understand the depth of the situation."

Last week ECMA published an intermediate draft of the Open XML format. ECMA is expected to make a decision about the format by the end of the year, according to Yates.

Topic: Apps

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  • ODF is too slow, says the company that's taken ... how many years to release the follow-up to Windows XP?
  • Microsoft's DOC is just as slow! Proof: I opened and manipulated several doc files using the OpenOffice application and found it was too slow to be satisfactory! Even worse, the doc files take to long to start-up.

    Plus my versison of MS Word doesn't even support,
    Microsofts new OpenXML. format. Maybe, its too slow?
  • I wonder what kind of attack we should expect next? ODF too boring? ODF too insecure? ODF too open? ODF too useful? Give me a break!
  • Was that "richer" "customer experience", or "richer customer" experience?
  • "[The Gartner analysis] was very surprising and ill-informed," he said. "We've encouraged the analysts to gather more data and understand the depth of the situation."

    Taking bets on whether the 'encouragement' was a carrot ("here, have another few million for 'independant' market reports") or the stick ("you slam whatever we tell you to or we'll never use you again!")
  • MSO 2003 doesn't even use MS Office Open XML format, so Yate's comparison of OOo2 vs MSO 2003 is quite invalid. As someone knowledgeable on MS products he knows that quite well and appears to be deliberately trying to cause confusion.
  • "As someone knowledgeable on MS products he knows that quite well and appears to be deliberately trying to cause confusion."
    M$ trying to spread FUD? Surely you can't be serious.
    This is a company that knows what's good for the world, they know what the world wants and needs.
    So anything that doesn't have the M$ logo on it is of no value, worthless. If you aren't overpaying then you aren't getting a bang for your buck. Plus if you don't support M$ who is going to continue to supply us
    with unstable, insecure, overpriced software?
  • Gee, I hope MS programmers aren't as bereft of logic as Mr. Yates. Even if one grants that one application that uses ODF is slow, that doesn't imply that ODF is inherently inefficient.

    Not even the study's author broad jumped to that conclusion. (For that matter, it's not clear what one can infer from the time and memory usage for loading a blank document. I don't know about you, but I very rarely manipulate empty documents--what would be far more telling is how memory and time usage grows as a function of document size or complexity.)

    The thing about ODF is that it's open. There are many word processors that use it. I dare say they vary in speed. If OpenOffice is gratuitously slow, someone will make a better ODF-capable program, and OpenOffice will fade away.
  • zdnet - Your study, on which this article was based, was about OpenOffice vs Office. It had nothing to do with the file formats used. Why did you not add some editorial correction to the article?
  • This is marketing bull. How the heck does a file format provide "a deeper, richer customer experience"? Customers don't "experience" the file format, especially not in a "deep" or "rich" way!
  • We should listen to MS on this, after all they did patent slow clunky file formats.
  • Even if Microsoft's implementation is faster initially the required security patches needed later on will slow it down to a crawl any way. In the mean time the Open specification will improve in all directions, stability, performance, functionality, you name it.

    In short, think ahead. Don't focus on a certain moment in time.