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OpenOffice Bloated? 941

Posted by Zonk
from the feeling-the-weight-gain dept.
cygnusx writes "ZDNet's George Ou has been writing a series of posts about Open Office bloat. Includes some interesting system usage comparisons" From the article: "Even when dealing with what is essentially the same data, OpenOffice Calc uses up 211 MBs of private unsharable memory while Excel uses up 34 MBs of private unsharable memory. The fact that OpenOffice.org Calc takes about 100 times the CPU time explains the kind of drastic results we were getting where Excel could open a file in 2 seconds while Calc would take almost 3 minutes. Most of that massive speed difference is due to XML being very processor intensive, but Microsoft still handles its own XML files about 7 times faster than OpenOffice.org handles OpenDocument ODS format and uses far less memory than OpenOffice.org."
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OpenOffice Bloated?

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  • by mishehu (712452) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:17PM (#13889590)
    Perhaps the reason that OO uses more private memory than does MS Office is that MS Office links to all the MS dll files, while OO bundles its own internal libraries with it?

    And from article/blog/whatever: "Now to be fair, OpenOffice.org is free and is cross platform, but does this really matter to the 90% of the users in the world who only use Windows?"

    If it's legally free to use and does the same task, why wouldn't 90% of the users in the world who only use Windows *not* care? People always look for what's cheaper, sometimes even if it's not better (note how MS became the company it is today...)
  • by thekel (909848) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:18PM (#13889592)
    Most of the bloat I see results from kludging together work from multiple sources that are not communicating well. Can't they solve this by switching to a faster parser? Or is the format itself flawed? So many questions, this doesn't bode well. Speaking of bloat, why do linux distros come on 5 CDs with multiple versions of every possible thing. Have options is nice, but the fragmentation is getting out of head.
  • by slavemowgli (585321) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:18PM (#13889598) Homepage
    I'm not sure I can see the conflict of interest here. Does Intel have an office suite of their own they're trying to sell? Or did they merge with Microsoft recently? :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:19PM (#13889606)
    My company uses OpenOffice on literally hundreds of PCs. I use OpenOffice exclusively, save for the rare time we in IT use MSFT Office to open up a document for a user. (No, OpenOffice is not perfect at converting but that's OK with us).
    OpenOffice is free (as in beer) and easy to use. The drawback? It's so friggin SLOW, SLOW, SLOW.

    Real world use, real world PCs, real world users. OpenOffice is painfully slow. I have tested OpenOffice on dozens of PCs, users and my own, PCs and notebooks. Slow is as slow does, and OpenOffice does it slowly.

    Kill the QuickStart process THEN try to open OpenOffice. UUGH! SLOW!!!!
  • by Cereal Box (4286) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:19PM (#13889610)
    Hmm, you didn't provide any hardware/software specs OR timing/memory data (so others could confirm your work), but your results are nonetheless "informative". It must be because your results were in OO's favor.
  • My results (Score:2, Insightful)

    by travail_jgd (80602) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:20PM (#13889622)
    I get the exact opposite results for Excel and OpenOffice Calc: Excel takes forever to load, doesn't share memory, etc, and Calc is a lot faster/leaner.

    Then again, I'm running Excel in Crossover Office; all those Windows libraries aren't "preloaded" for me. Maybe that's why XP and Vista have such large system requirements?
  • by espek (797676) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:21PM (#13889631)
    Just go ahead and admit it, they both suck for different reasons. We need a third player.
  • by cyclop (780354) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:22PM (#13889639) Homepage Journal

    The difference is: you don't have to load all applications of a Linux distro at once (haha, it would be nice to try), so you don't feel the "bloat" unless you somehow decide to open all these apps together.

  • No Methodology (Score:4, Insightful)

    by anderm7 (68050) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:23PM (#13889651) Homepage
    These articles are complete garbage. No mention of methodology is made. What files were loaded, what conditions were they loaded under. Was it the same machine, or a very similar machine. What distro, what JVM, and on, and on, and on. Sounds like another MS shill to me.
  • by jsebrech (525647) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:25PM (#13889665)
    What about the source? Ad hominem attacks are a logical fallacy. Who wrote the article should not have bearing on judging the validity of the article.

    Now, what about the actual statements made in the article. Does anyone have anything to say about those?
  • by GileadGreene (539584) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:26PM (#13889679) Homepage
    Linux runs on Intel too. And OOo runs on Windows or Linux. I doubt Intel cares what sofwtare is running on what OS, so long as everything is "Intel Inside®".
  • Lets see... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shads (4567) * <shadus@NOspam.shadus.org> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:29PM (#13889695) Homepage Journal
    ... open office being slow:

    Java, now I'm no language bigot, but Java is slower than C (but more portable without changes in code).
    It's a replacement for the most bloated piece of windows software and has most of the same features.

    I use OO presently, it's not a speed demon thats for sure. However, A) It's free, B) Keeps me from having to run a windows emulator for word docs and scuh. So it's a win win. The equation would be ... 500$ vs lackluster speed, good compatability, and 90% features of office.
  • by sinan (10073) <sinan@bozuk.org> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:29PM (#13889702) Homepage
    Even then , would you rather spend $500 on Microsoft Office or extra memory and a CPU to get a better machine to speed up all the applications. Paying for one piece of software usually does not pay.
  • by jdclucidly (520630) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:31PM (#13889714) Homepage

    I can't believe this got modded +5; moderators, shame on you. This post is the oldest logical fallacy in the book: Argumentum ad Hominem [lander.edu] . Rather than attacking the source, you're supposed to attack the argument! And quite frankly, the tests look rock solid and statistically accurate. If you can't raise the level of the argument, just don't say anything at all. You make the rest of us look bad.

    Your two digit ID be damned...

  • by LexNaturalis (895838) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:33PM (#13889743)
    The responses on ./ and the response from the F/OSS people will demonstrate whether Open Source is superior to Microsoft (or any closed-source company). If people just justify the results and claim that OO is still better just because it's Open Source, then in reality Open Source will lose. I think this is a time for the community to notice the problem, admit the problem, and then try to fix it. If the problem can be solved to the point where load times/memory usage is on par with Microsoft, then the Open Source community will prove that it is competent and able to produce a superior (or even equal) product that has the other advantages (freedom, lack of restrictive licenses, etc) that Open Source brings to the table.

    Or... people can just whine and show the world that they're a bunch of babies who accuse people of being shills and just ignore the problem.

    I, for one, hope the former occurs. I'll admit I'm not a good enough programmer (yet) to do anything about the problem now, but I hope the Open Source programmers who are capable will tackle this problem and fix it w/o making petty excuses.
  • by Morgaine (4316) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:36PM (#13889765)
    ... an article possibly designed to sink Open Office

    Maybe, maybe not, who knows. But what I find odd is that a simple, easily-measureable property like speed is treated as a religious issue and/or examined for conflicts of interest at all. Why not just measure it in a series of comparative tests as scientifically as possible?

    And then, if Open Office is found to be lacking in speed, fine, no problem! The result simply becomes very valuable input to OO's design and development team, and in all probability will get dealt with very seriously and rapidly and to the benefit of its users.

    There really shouldn't be an issue of contention here, if we're truly techies.
  • by zagmar (20261) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:37PM (#13889781)
    Is it possible that part of the issue has to do with MS Office using certain aspects of Win XP that OpenOffice does not have access to?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:37PM (#13889784)
    What about the source? Ad hominem attacks are a logical fallacy. Who wrote the article should not have bearing on judging the validity of the article.

    You clearly don't know what an ad hominem attack is. The ad hominem fallacy is where you say "Ou is an idiot, and I have reason to believe he's also homosexual. Therefore his article is rubbish". That is indeed a logical fallacy and an invalid argument.

    On the other hand, to say "Ou has a well-documented history of writing negative articles on the subject of open-source software" is to state a fact, not to make an attack; and to continue, "therefore it is likely that his approach to the subject will be biased, his evidence selective, and his conclusions unreliable", is perfectly reasonable.

    To be perfectly blunt, the provenance of an article is significant. If Linus Torvalds says "Linux is better than Windows", that means very little: of course he thinks that, and nobody really thinks twice when he says so. But if Bill Gates were to say the same thing, then it would be an incredibly significant statement, and people hearing it would immediately put great trust in those words: if Bill Gates says the competition is better, it must be really good!

    Similarly, if an OpenOffice.org developer were to announce that their software was, in fact, not as good as MS Office, then that would be a significant announcement that should be given much credence. But when Ou, who has a long and easily verifiable history of writing articles that disparage open-source software, says the same thing, his words should be taken with a generous pinch of salt.

    That's not an ad-hominem fallacy. It's called "critical thinking".
  • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:38PM (#13889795) Homepage Journal
    So a truer comparison would involve starting Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access, watching how much this entire toolset takes up in memory, and then load the Excel and Calc files and see the difference.
    Well... no.

    Just because the design of OO.o is completely braindead, that's no reason to handicap the competition to make it look better. If Excel is smaller than Calc, say so. If Word is smaller than Writer, say so. If Word+Excel+Powerpoint combined are about the same as the OO equivalents combined, then say that, but most of the time people want just Word, or just Excel, or just Powerpoint.
  • Appologists (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jone_stone (124040) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:40PM (#13889815) Homepage
    There are a remarkable number of OO.o/FOSS appologists here. The answer to this surprising result seems clear to me:

    Microsoft makes good software!

    Okay, call me a troll, but I've tried a lot of free software over the years and I almost always find it lacking. Microsoft's stuff, on the other hand -- most particularly Office and Windows -- is remarkable when you consider how much they do and how efficiently.

    One of the biggest areas in which FOSS is lacking is the boring optimization and debugging that's vital for world class software. The truth is that Microsoft is huge and has lots of money, so they can afford to spend time on that important finishing polish. There's an old saying in computer science: The first 90 percent of the work is easy, the second 90 percent wears you down, and the last 90 percent - the attention to detail - makes a good product.
  • by QuaintRealist (905302) <quaintrealist@NOSPAM.gmail.com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:43PM (#13889845) Homepage Journal
    As far as I can tell...

    1) OOO IS slow - under Windows and Linux, enough so that competing "offices" like KOffice are kept alive despite reduced feature sets.

    2) Office runs faster, but for that matter, so does IE - is it any suprise that MS can write software for its own OS which takes every possible advantage of its native environment to run with speed?

    3) I use OOO whenever I can, because open standards means I know I'll be able to access my data in 10 years, unlike the struggle I've had with old Office/Wordperfect/XyWrite documents I've had to try to convert.

    4) OOO is "bloated" in the same way my big multitool is bloated - you can't be small, fast, and everything to everyone on every OS
  • by alienw (585907) <alienw...slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:44PM (#13889847)
    I didn't realize how much I hated OpenOffice until I used Word for a while last night. OpenOffice takes about 20 seconds to start on my Linux machine. The latest version of word takes about 3, on a Windows computer with half the RAM and a slower CPU. I've not managed to crash Word in quite a while, while OpenOffice crashes reliably if you paste a figure from, say, Matlab and drag it the wrong way (I have about 20 of those Sun "thank you for your crash report" emails in my inbox right now). And god help you if you want to add captions to your figures, or use "styles", or insert an equation, or do just about anything a good word processor should let you do. As it is right now, I'd rather use Word under VMWare than a native version of OpenOffice. For now, my favorite by far is LaTeX -- even with its arcane syntax, it is a hell of a lot better than anything else out there.
  • by Bluejay42 (234007) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:46PM (#13889861)
    Is it time yet to admit that Excel is an excellent piece of software? It has managed to stay true to its core competencies (calculations) while gaining many new audiences. I have used it in the past year for stock analysis, dynamic web queries (a simple Crystal Reports), and site wireframing. While many look at the insecurity of macros, they are enormously useful for the financial community and advanced data analysis.

    The great thing about open source though, I bet there is someone *right now* using the test files provided by this author to improve the Open Office parsing routines. Gotta love it.
  • Re:GUI (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bheer (633842) <rbheerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:50PM (#13889912)
    Old tricks indeed. The only 'trick' I see here incompetence -- on the part of whining developers who write cross-platform code and then complain that Microsoft's platform-optimized code runs faster than theirs.

    Netscape complained for ages that Navigator couldn't be as fast as IE because of 'hidden DLLs'. Pooh. They (and the early Mozilla 5 team) never bothered to read MSDN -- DLL rebasing, page fault reduction: all of this is documented there, but you have to be willing to actually read about and use them.

    Today, Firefox uses them and Firefox's load times are almost as good as IE's (if slightly less due to the XUL overhead). The Moox builds, which optimize more aggressively, start even better. Even the Seamonkey devs clued up, current Seamonkey builds start MUCH faster as a result.

  • Not XML itself (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DV (10611) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:51PM (#13889927) Homepage
    Saying it's because XML parsing is slow doesn't make sense. Any decent XML parser
    will parse at a 30 MBytes/s rate on a recent processor, usually one waits for I/O
    it rather how that XML data are handled that makes for a slow loading, not the
    XML format itself. 2 minutes of processing would mean like a multi gigabyte XML
    file, that's not the problem.

    Daniel
  • by arkanes (521690) <arkanes@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:53PM (#13889950) Homepage
    The short answer is that speed is not a simple, easily measurable property. It's extremely open to subjective interpertation, which means that absolute measures can be misleading, and more importantly, it's extremely difficult to quantify and measure in an agnostic way. This is why artifical benchmarks are, at best, only casual predictors of real performance. However, they remain extremely popular, especially against those with an axe to grind, because it *looks* like a hard, concrete measurement.

    All this is not to say that benchmarking isn't usefull, or that it cannot show real performance differences, but it's extremely naive to treat any benchmark as a concrete indicator of general case performance.

    As an aside, in my experience OO.o often beats Office for speed, but in ways that won't generally show on a benchmark. For example, in one install (but not all - another reason benchmarks aren't generic) opening the Find dialog in Excel took about 5 seconds. Every time. Thats a very real percieved performance deficit. Office, especially Excel again, will often lock up as I resize or move columns around. This is a non-determenistic thing (related to Offices internal memory management, I suspect) and thus difficult to benchmark, but is real. It is extremely possible, even likely that someone in a different environment will see the opposite effects.

  • by bobintetley (643462) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:54PM (#13889962)

    If people just justify the results and claim that OO is still better just because it's Open Source, then in reality Open Source will lose.

    It IS better because it's Open Souce. It's better in my eyes because I value my freedoms and I'd rather have a slower application with open formats and open code than a closed source application trying to lock up my data and tie me into one platform.

    As you said, OO's problems can be overcome - Microsoft's can't.

  • Missing the point. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by elfguygmail.com (910009) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:55PM (#13889964) Homepage
    This article is missing the point of OpenOffice. It doesn't take scientific results to find out OpenOffice is slower to open files than MS Office. Anyone using them will see the difference in a big way regardless what data they use. The fact that it's slow to open files and uses more memory is the primary issue with OpenOffice. The fact that MS Office can't retain compatibility accross versions is the main issue with MS Office. The point here is that OpenOffice is the first software in years that is on par with MS Office. They are both 'comparable'. People may argue on which one is actually better, but for the first time they are both pretty damn close in what they can or cannot do. Why is it important? Because on every single other aspect OpenOffice wins hands down. It's free, while MS Office costs hundreds. It's open source and totally customizable, while MS Office is closed. It's free of patent issues, while the state of Massachusetts found MS Office's proprietary format isn't. That's what counts. We finally have a real alternative, that is for ever free, and documents created by it will always be able to be read by any application implementing this open standard. So sure, shout out all day long that OpenOffice uses too much memory for your taste, but at the end of the day, it still wins.
  • by coronaride (222264) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (ediranoroc)> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:56PM (#13889981)
    I'm not sure about the specifics of pre-caching, but there is some truth in your comment. However, your comment is still what I would consider a troll or a nag. At the very least, it's a good example of blind ignorance from a Linux apologist. If using a prefetch causes my documents to load faster, then that would seem to me to be good design. Your argument is analogous to the folowing:

    Your car is faster than my bicycle, but only because it uses a complicated internal combustion engine. If you didn't use your car for a couple of years, it wouldn't start up very fast, would it? I'd be halfway down the block before you even got your car in gear...
  • by mc900ftjesus (671151) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:00PM (#13890006)
    I hope you don't take the comments posted on /. as the F/OSS community's actual opinion. Plus, it's not like the "public" actually reads this site, and by public I mean people who have no idea what OSS is or what the point is.

    Oh, and just diable java in OO, that fixes the load times. It's not OO's fault, blame Sun. You will lose the ability to run Java applets in you word processor, but who the crap asked for that feature?
  • by CyricZ (887944) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:00PM (#13890007)
    Indeed, those products are rather lousy on Windows. But then again, Windows is vastly different from UNIX, and the UNIX layers on Windows (like Cygwin) aren't very good.

    On Linux, BSD or Solaris, for instance, such programs work very well. Indeed, one only needs to look at Kylix to see the reverse being true. The port of the Delphi IDE, using Wine, was terrible. It crashed terribly often, not that it was completely stable under Windows, mind you.

  • Re:No Methodology (Score:4, Insightful)

    by archen (447353) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:00PM (#13890010)
    I wouldn't say they're garbage just no methodology for pointing out the obvious. MS Office 2k spanks OO.org on Windows on every machine I've tried it on - on both speed and memory.

    Besides which, if there are that many vairables to OO running "well" then at least you could say MS office is consistent.

    It doesn't really matter to me since I'll be using OO anyway. Besides which now that the open source world (Koffice, etc) have also pleged to support the OASIS format, we should be able to pick and choose our word processors in a few years without worrying about compatability. Open office isn't our last hope, it's our foot in the door.
  • by squoozer (730327) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:01PM (#13890024)

    I don't want to be an apologist for OO but you can't deny the fact that MS has had about 10 years long to get MSO right than the OOo people have had to get OO right. Now that isn't to say that we should or will have to wait ten years till OO is as good as MSO is today but we should cut them a bit of slack if the software isn't a slick an lean as it could be. In a very short period of time the OOo team have gone from nothing to something that can rival MSO. Assuming the pace of development continues OO will, I feel, be as good as MSO in two years.

  • Re:No Methodology (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bastian (66383) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:02PM (#13890029)
    Yeah, because, you know, nobody else has been complaining about how slow and bloated OO.o is, or how slow and bloated StarOffice was. OO.o is perfect. Everyone in the Linux community is just perfectly satisified with their choice of office software. I know I am.
  • Actually. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Agarax (864558) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:06PM (#13890066)
    This is one area where Open Source has its weakness.

    Cutting down and optimizing existing code is not nearly as glorious as adding new features.

    Micro$oft, on the other hand, can afford to have a whole team of programmers who's only job is to optimize and slim down the code.

    As much as I hate MS, they did get a lot of things right in Office (except for that damn paperclip).
  • by alienw (585907) <alienw...slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:06PM (#13890069)
    I agree. I would say the main problem is that OpenOffice is a huge, bloated source base. These types of huge, monolithic projects with a proprietary code base do not work at all for open-source development. It would probably take about a week to compile the damn thing on my system, and it would take me a lot more time than I have to get proficient with the architecture. Actually improving anything would be a challenging task, because the codebase is vast and is apparently of rather poor quality. To really improve anything like resource utilization, large parts of the codebase would likely have to be redesigned.

    Closed source development is generally more efficient (thousands of well-paid full-time programmers vs. a few dozen volunteers), but open-source can generally deliver the same features with a lot less code, or at least distribute the workload among several smaller projects. The code generally tends to be better quality, simply because it's not rushed. With OpenOffice, none of these factors are true because it's an open-sourced proprietary product. We really get the worst of both worlds in this situation.
  • by renderhead (206057) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:08PM (#13890089)
    If Linus Torvalds says "Linux is better than Windows", that means very little: of course he thinks that, and nobody really thinks twice when he says so. But if Bill Gates were to say the same thing, then it would be an incredibly significant statement...


    This only holds true for vague, relative and subjective statements like the one in your example.

    A better example would be if Linus Torvalds said "I ran a test that demonstrates Linux booting 25% faster than Windows on the same hardware," and Bill Gates responded with "My tests show that Windows boots 15% faster than Linux on the same hardware."

    Yes, both speakers have motives that are worth questioning But the proper response is not to dismiss both claims because of the speakers' biases but rather to take a closer look at their methods and their results. If you find problems with their tests, then you can dismiss their results. If not, then you must accept the results and attempt to reconcile them with any conflicting data you have encountered.

    It doesn't matter how reputable the source is. You should always check their research before you accept their claims as conclusive.
  • by jahudabudy (714731) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:09PM (#13890097)
    If using a prefetch causes my documents to load faster, then that would seem to me to be good design.

    I think you misunderstand the OP (although, its possible I do). My take on his comment is that whichever application you use most commonly is going to be improved thru pre-caching and binding. So, if the testers use Excel often, their Excel load time is going to be faster than my load time if I never use Excel, even on otherwise identical machines. His point, I believe, is that if the testers did not account for this, then the Operating System's behavior of pre-caching and binding could play a significant enough factor in the load speeds to completely overshadow any differences in the Applications' respective abilities.
  • Re:GUI (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerte@gOPENBSDmail.com minus bsd> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:12PM (#13890125)
    Off course, and not only the GUI, but many functionality built into m$ office is actually part of the OS, while OO is a complete suite, with all the code into the app itself. It's the same that happends with IE. IE loads faster than Firefox, because IE is allready loaded as part of the OS, with the actual explorer being just a frontend, if we preload Gecko, Mozilla would load faster (Konqueror is a good example of this).

    Anyway, We use Free Software beacause it's Free (As in Freedom). If a certain app has technicall problems, we should be working to improve it, not write bad reviews about it.
  • by gr8_phk (621180) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:16PM (#13890166)
    "If it's legally free to use and does the same task, why wouldn't 90% of the users in the world who only use Windows *not* care?"

    Because they don't care about "legal". Often when I tell someone about OpenOffice, they tell me it's neat but they already have MS Office at home - or at least word. If you tell them "but it's free", they often say they got the MS products free too - illegal of course. They figure why get some free knockoff when they can get "the real thing" free. The ones who paid for MS often got a student price or something, and they really have no incentive to switch until their existing version won't work any more.

    The problem is that everyone has Word or Office already weather they paid for it or not. In that context, OOo has nothing to offer - the other benefits are too abstract for joe sixpack. It's a case where MS benefits from casual copies floating around.

    The situation is the same for others: Mechanical Engineers tend to have a pinched copy of Autocad at home. Artists have a pinched Photoshop. Animators have a pinched copy of Maya. This hurts adoption of GIMP and Blender - sorry, there is no great GPLed CAD program (except for QCAD for 2D). I'm sure there are plenty more examples. If Longhorn can prevent people running illegal copies of all this software, we'll start to see people switch - assuming MS will allow them to run the legally free stuff.

  • by Total_Wimp (564548) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:18PM (#13890191)
    Then there's the old standby, "there's no such thing as bad publicity."

    I know a lot of people who'd prefer bloated, slow and free(as in beer) to less bloated, faster, but $379.95 at newegg.com. Many of those people don't even know there's an alternative to MS Office. I hope they read C/Net.

    TW
  • Re:My results (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:19PM (#13890199)
    You're running Excel *and* Crossover Office, *and* Excel is not a native app, and you're comparing it a native app. And you think it's informative that the native app is faster?
  • by utnow (808790) <utnow@yahoo.com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:20PM (#13890210) Homepage
    So... I should load Macromedia Fireworks, Dreamweaver, Flex, Coldfusion, Studio, JRun, Freehand, Authorware, and Contribute every time I want to edit a flash file with MM Flash?

    Or should Photoshop also load up Illustrator, GoLive, and Premier?

    Naw... there's no bloat in OO.org
  • by eno2001 (527078) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:20PM (#13890212) Homepage Journal
    Some of this is also arrogant assumptions on all sides. The pro-MS camp is going to test Office under Windows against OO.o under Windows. However, OO.o is a port. It wasn't written for Windows, so there are bound to be some performance issues. Likewise, the pro-OO.o camp will post their various figures proving otherwise while running OO.o under Linux or some other *nix. All the while not taking into account that "Joe Average" at home isn't going to be running the optimal OS for OO.o. I've even seen some weird responses on the ZDNet site. Like the guy who compared OO.o running under Linux with MS Office running under Wine and providing memory usages stats from that. That's just plain silly. Wine has a LOT of overhead, so it's unnfair comparison in much the same way that comparing MS Office on Windows to OO.o on Windows is. The real truth would be found in comparing MS Office on Windows with OO.o on a *nix and then providing the caveat that each Office suite is made to run well on a particular platform. That's the most realistic view. Of course when the AJAX based Office suites pop up all over the place, this will all be moot.
  • What if??? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by treo1167 (926372) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:22PM (#13890234)
    This may be an unusual concept, but what if MS's Huge Team of Developers have actually put out a refined copy of office, and OO being open source, hasnt reached that level yet?
  • by arkanes (521690) <arkanes@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:46PM (#13890442) Homepage
    Benchmarking obviously should be done in as cut and dry a method as possible, but it is *critical* to remember when publishing and evaluating benchmarks that they are synthetic and do not neccesarily generalize to actual performance. They are, at best, indicators.

    This is especially important in an article like this one, where the author clearly has an agenda. For example, he characterizes (in his summary) OO.o as performing 98x worse than Office - clearly not supported either by the his benchmarks result (he's describing the worst case as the general case), or by good benchmarking practice in general - he's generalizing from one result on one system with one data set to a general case.

    I don't want to imply that benchmarks are useless - they aren't. But *in this context*, they pretty much are. Certainly articles of this type, and in a publication like zdnet, are not the best candidates for objective performance testing. These are flame-generating hit-generators, even when the underlying basis (that OO.o is general case slower and consumes more memory than Office) are defensible.

  • Re:Actually. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:48PM (#13890453)
    I manage a team of programmers and let me tell you, the most praise and glory gets heaped upon them when they can optimize a program that's been acting like a pig. Idunno, maybe that sort of work isn't going to get you a mention in the Wall Street Journal or even CNet, but optimization is SO much more important than people realize these days. Let me offer you a nice, well-rehearsed rant about the quality of programmers who have graduated since say, 1987... Oh, forget it. I'm sure somebody else has already posted one. I'll just say wise up, Sonny-boy. The next generation of CPU and memory WON'T catch up with your crappy, wasteful programming practices. Show some pride of craftsmanship for God's sake!
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:49PM (#13890465)

    I must say though, without bias, that MS Office has to be their greatest product. It just works and I haven't ever had any issues with it at all.

    I've used Word casually and professionally on both Windows and Mac OS X. I also use OpenOffice upon occasion. Without trying to compare the two, here are few problems I've had with Word that have prompted me to avoid it:

    • Closed, ever changing file format - I have old word files I inherited that don't open in any program I can get my hands on, and others that only open in OpenOffice. These were created on an old version of Word. I don't trust .doc files to be usable in the future.
    • Large documents - at about 200 pages with the occasional graphic, Word consistently fails to properly save or open files. Sometimes it will save a file and the file will no longer open at all. Sometimes it will corrupt the document beyond all hope of recovery. At one point I was saving files, closing them, and then re-opening them before making a back-up every time I edited the files.
    • Output formats - In order to get decent XML, properly formatted from word you need to buy an expensive add on program, like Webworks pro. Ditto for usable HTML.
    • Formats stored in carriage returns - what could be more annoying than storing all the formatting info for a paragraph in the carriage return of that paragraph? Why does all this info disappear if I merge two paragraphs. How can this have not been fixed yet?
    • Images - Word messes up images for me regularly and inserting large numbers of images consumes enormous resources, making the whole program slow down considerably.
    • Spellchecking, grammar checking, translation, dictionary, thesaurus - Word still can't use the standard services available to other applications on my system forcing me to use their inferior spellchecking, etc. or to copy and paste text out of word, into another program, and then back if I want to lookup a word in an online dictionary, or translate a paragraph from or to another language.

    All of these are reasons why I can't use Word as a professional solution for general text/document editing. That is not to say that OpenOffice is any better, it has plenty of its own problems, but if you haven't run into any of these using Word then you must not use it very much or for a large variety of tasks.

  • mmm, I disagree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Praeluceo (528253) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:50PM (#13890478) Homepage Journal
    I say that Microsoft is about $500 [officedepot.com] too bloated. That extra 5 seconds on initial load, and 2 seconds to open a file are worth the half a grand it'd cost for me to purchase Microsoft Office 2003. Ehh, $499 for an office suite, I tell you, that's just insane. I'll stick with OpenOffice.org thank you ver much, it's more than capable. Happy business user of OpenOffice.org since 2002.
  • by sterno (16320) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:50PM (#13890479) Homepage
    Technological advances render all but the most dramatic processing demands almost moot.

    It used to be true that a given process would be run exponentially faster over time by the growing power of processors. So if you wrote bloated crappy code, within two years it worked fine because all the processors got better. The problem is that we're running into a wall as to how high they can clock the processors because of the heat and power requirements.

    The solution has been to switch to a multi-core processor that runs at the same or even sometimes lower frequencies. This works great but it has one HUGE caveat: the code must be able to run in parallel. Code that is being written today, by and large, doesn't account for this. Sure there's threading and all that in much of today's code, but not quite such that you're seeing those same exponential increases in performance.

    To write fast code today you have to be able to write code that can break down into numerous discrete chunks that can all work in parallel. With each new generation of processor, this is going to become more and more critical. Right now we have 2 cores, then we'll get 4, 8, etc. With each generation, you'll get faster performance, but with each generation, the code becomes more complex because it must be broken down into smaller pieces to take advantage of the extra cores.

    Having said that, I suspect that the OO people are, at the moment, more focussed with creating functional parity between OO and Office. Sure, sometimes it will be noticebly slower, but if it can do everything Office can do, then they can refactor the innards down the line to improve performance.
  • by Theovon (109752) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:56PM (#13890537)
    I'll begin by saying that I mostly use Linux, and I use OpenOffice even on Windows when I can help it. One reason is that I don't want to give money to Microsoft, but there are other reasons as well, including my belief that Free Software is the key to the advancement of IT in the future.

    But this situation is pure hillarity. OSS fans have their list of reasons why Linux (or some Linux app) is better than Windows (or some Windows app). Two reasons near the top are that Windows is slower and more bloated. These reasons are sited often and are part of the OSS mantra.

    So I find it incredibly ironic that now that the shoe is on the other foot, the tables are turned, etc., that these very same people are dismissing "bloated" and "slow" as unimportant.

    No, you idiots. "Bloated" and "slow" are ALWAYS bad, even when they apply to an OSS application. That means there's something wrong with OpenOffice.org, and if you have half a brain in your head, you have to accept that it's broken for that reason. That doesn't mean you should stop using it or feel disillusioned. And defending your beliefs in the face of this embarrassment just makes you look stupid and inconsistent. HAVE SOME FREAKING STANDARDS, and have them ALL THE TIME, not just when they make your favorite thing look better. It's time for you to have egg on your face, admit it, and take it like an adult. And then the next thing you need to do is stop wasting your time and fix the problem.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:02PM (#13890576)
    No. No, no no no no.

    The whole reason behind ad hominem attacks being wrong is that they don't point to any actual proof of anything regarding the argument. Just because someone is an idiot doesn't mean what they are saying is incorrect. Just because someone has shown a bias toward a viewpoint, doesn't mean that they're wrong, either.

    In that sense, saying that "Ou has a history of writing negative articles on the subject of open-source software" IS, in fact, attacking the messenger, not the argument presented. It is absolutely an ad hom attack. Sure, such knowledge might lead you to carefully examine Ou's claims (which might, in turn, lead you to discover real evidence against Ou's assertions), but it is *NOT* evidence about the claims themselves.

    I'm critical of your thinking.

    Parent post is completely wrong and makes the "Insightful" tag cry. Mod it down!
  • by argent (18001) <peter&slashdot,2006,taronga,com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:21PM (#13890716) Homepage Journal
    The Excel team at Microsoft have always been a bunch of hardcore performance-and-utility fanatics, and the quality of Excel reflects that. In my opinion it's the only component of Microsoft Office that's worth anything, and I dearly wish it was available as a separate program so fat incompetant slobs like Word could be left to scrounge for users on shareware sites.

    To maintain performance and compatibility, they refused to get drawn into the COM morass for many years... they interoperated with but didn't depend on COM. At one point they were even using their own compiler. Setting OOO Calc up against Excel is like comparing a donkey to a thoroughbred, and never noticing that the rest of the horses in the stable with the thoroughbred are broken down old screws.
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:21PM (#13890721) Homepage
    To what extent is this just the proper natural evolution of a large scale application?

    Step 1: Functional demo, very lacking in features and stability. This would be StarOffice up through the 5.x series, and the OpenOffice 0.x series.

    Step 2: Dramatic increases in stability and completion of all the major technical functions, but with a somewhat clunky or non-intuitive interface. OpenOffice 1.x.

    Step 3: More user friendly and natural interface, but performance is not yet up to par.

    Step 4: Performance optimization.

    Each step is the natural evolution from the prior state. The initial state is an idea, which leads to a functional demo. The functional demo gets poked at by a few outsiders who say, "This might be a good idea, but it doesn't support features X, Y, and Z, and it crashes all the time." That feedback leads to the incorporation of new features and advances in stability. Then a larger group of outsiders uses it and says, "Yeah, this is getting good - it does everything I need it to, but the interface is a little goofy, so I'm sticking with my current solution for now." That feedback leads to user interface improvements. Those improvements lead to a much larger group using the software, and more people using the software full-time, those people say, "Wow, this is really well done, but look at how much (CPU|RAM|disk space|bandwidth) it uses." Which should, inevitably, lead to performance optimization.

    That sounds like the natural sequence to me. In fact, that whole process - release, listen, refactor, wait till the end to performance optimize - has always been a big part of successful projects and is now becoming a big part of standardized software development models like those that come under the Agile umbrella. It would be worse if there had been a lot of unnecessary performance optimization that had lead to an unmaintainable code base.
  • by Valdrax (32670) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @03:29PM (#13891439)
    Because on every single other aspect OpenOffice wins hands down. It's free, while MS Office costs hundreds. It's open source and totally customizable, while MS Office is closed. It's free of patent issues, while the state of Massachusetts found MS Office's proprietary format isn't. That's what counts.

    No, it's not. Not in the marketplace. What counts is:

    1) Can either application handle all your needs?
    2) Which provides the best user experience?
    3) Which has a lower TCO?

    OO wins #3 hands down. It generally ties with MSO on #1, unless you really rely on spreadsheet macros (say, to handle timesheets). Memory uses & speed are definitely a penalty to OO in #2.

    What matters in the market is how much emphasis each customer places on #1-#3. In general the markets don't care at all about patents and open source except as they affect issues #1-#3. You care a lot because it's a passionate issue for you, but it won't affect OO's acceptance in the market directly.
  • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000@NOspAm.yahoo.com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @03:44PM (#13891594)

    Microsoft may have a good product going with Office, but to release it on Linux would bring market loss to them.

    While MS would loose some of the OS market they would more than make up for it in the Office arena. I've heard a few people say the only reason they stay with Windows is because of Office, well there's Office 2004 for Mac [apple.com] and I've also heard some Linux/Open Source users say they'd get Office as well if it were available. Actually if there weren't a market for it then CrossOver OfficeTM 5.0 [codeweavers.com] Featuring Microsoft Office 2003 wouldn't of been made. I don't have the data to support this but I've heard that Office is the top income producer for MS, not Windows, and if they released it for Linux then they'd sale even more.

    Falcon
  • I'm sure that George did a full range of tests, of files from size ~10K up to the 100MB monster. I'm not sure why he didn't publish the results of the other files, but surely MS Office showed the same disproportional speed increase and lower memory use for all types of spreadsheets and word documents...?

    I read the blog entry, and this looks like an attempt to report the worst case (corner case) benchmark, for whatever reasons George might find useful. A fuller set of tests and results might make his case that MSOffice is better a little more convincing.

    Hard to be convincing about the usefulness of MSOffice over OpenOffice, if you're going to ignore the fact that MSOffice isn't available for some portion of the users, and choose to report a single data point as if it were conclusive.

  • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot DOT kadin AT xoxy DOT net> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @06:32PM (#13893019) Homepage Journal
    I agree, with some qualifications.

    Excel is a pretty solid program. What I don't like is how some people use it. Because Excel has some database-like features built in, it leads people to attempt to use it as if it were (and in place of) a real desktop database, leading to really ugly, bloated spreadsheets and finicky cross-sheet references that break at the drop of a hat and are a major pain to track down.

    I work regularly with a gigantic spreadsheet like this which is used as an internal financial planning and forecasting tool. The reason I've heard for originally using Excel is that they wanted something that would make graphs. Beginning from that premise, they piled all the data into a spreadsheet, and added sheet after sheet of subtotals forms, reports by week and month, reports by person, etc. It's truly hideous. In order to add a new person, you have to (by hand) modify each of the sheets, update the subtotal lines, etc., while in a real database program this would be relatively simple, if it even required any additional effort at all.

    Excel is a great spreadsheet program for doing spreadsheets. What it's NOT is a desktop database, and far too many people are laboring under the impression that it is.

    If Microsoft would quit loading all the query and PivotTable type features into Excel and concentrate on being a better spreadsheet than it is already, I wouldn't have any complaints. Even so, I suppose I grudgingly have to say that Excel is probably the least-offensive MS program out there.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 27, 2005 @11:38PM (#13894480)
    Geez, you didn't read the web page closely and you've got your anti-MS glasses on.
    We were talking about OOWriter.
    The test wasn't devised by Microsoft.
    The page was created due to an AbiWord 2.0.x performance bug. I'm not a Microsoft employee. I'm willing to put money on that - you wanna take the bet?
    I fixed a perf bug in AbiWord. Would a Microsoft employee do that?
    If you read the later updates, there's a perf problem with the Windows version of AbiWord 2.4.0.
    But that doesn't explain why AbiWord is still at least 3x slower than MSWord or OOWriter for this given test.
    AbiWord also uses way more memory than either MSWord or OOWriter.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 28, 2005 @11:48AM (#13896952)
    I am Johnny Lee. I do not work for Microsoft Corp now.

    YOU claimed that "the comparison was a test devised by Microsoft".

    If you actually read the background of the web page, it all started from an AbiWord perf bug, #5291. Read the bugzilla entry for that bug, there's a link on the web page.

    Your problem is that you don't like the data, so you try and discredit the source for the data.

    Other people can corroborate the data. If you look at the timings, OOWriter 1.x was actually close to MS Word's time. Version 2.x is slower though. I and Robert Wilhelm reduced AbiWord 2.0's time from 92secs to 14secs for this test.

    You said that because of these Microsoft-related points - "...this may have some bearing on the result."

    But then you reply, "I don't dispute the results of the test itself."

    Raymond Chen used to contribute to Linux, way back. I sincerely doubt he does that anymore.

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