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OpenOffice.org or Microsoft Office
 
 

Performance comparison of OpenOffice.org 1.1.4 and Microsoft Office 2003 Standard

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For a long time I have been using Microsoft Office.  It didn't come with the computer that I currently use but I purchased it a year ago (I was using Microsoft Works before because it came preinstalled).  Since then, I have switched from Internet Explorer to Maxthon, and then to Firefox.  I also switched form Outlook to Thunderbird and uninstalled Outlook.  I knew about OpenOffice.org (not when I purchased MS Office) for a while, but for some reason I did not want to use it instead of MS Office.  I don't really like Microsoft, but I assumed that since I paid for MS Office, it must be better.  As I read more and more about Open Source Software (OSS), I thought that I should give OO.o a try for a few reasons.  The number one reason being that I am tired of waiting 30 seconds for Word to load just to spellcheck a blog entry.  My computer is relatively slow (a 2.2 GHz Celeron with 512 MB RAM and a slow drive (5400 RPM)), so I wanted to make sure that OO.o is faster if I am going to use it.

I only tested the word processing software (Writer in OO.o and Word in MS Office) in each suite because that is what I use most often.  I didn't look at the features at all for this review because 1, I know they are very similar and 2, I know OO.o 2.0 is coming out soon (I didn't want to test it in beta).  I tried to make this comparison as fair as possible, and although I don't like Microsoft, I still use MS Office (for now).

 
Writer
 
Word

 

The first thing I did was to install OO.o  It took only 7.5 minutes and took up 164MB (94.82 according to Windows).  It did not require a restart.  It has been over a year since I installed MS Office, but I think it had to be restarted and that it takes up 450MB (according to Windows (the size in the "Add or Remove Programs listing)).

Minimum System Requirements:
 
OpenOffice.org
MS Office
CPU
Pentium Compatible
Pentium 233MHz
RAM
64 MB
128 MB
Disk
250 MB
260 MB

I made sure that the auto-loader was not running for either program because it seems wasteful to keep them in memory if I do not use them often.

Next I tested the speed of the applications themselves by simply opening and closing them 5 times and finding the average.

Opening time in seconds:
  Writer Word
First 11.02 31.1
Average 4.37 12.47

Interestingly the first startup (if the application is not in RAM) is much slower.  This is because of Windows, not the applications.  Here, Writer was 3 times faster than Word.

I also tested the time to close the application.

Closing time in seconds:
  Writer Word
Average <1 8.4

Here, Word was significantly slower because it had to "save changes to normal.dot".  I didn't change normal.dot!  I didn't even type anything!

While each program was open, I looked at the memory usage.

  Writer Word
Process 1 soffice.exe WINWORD.exe
Process 2
-
msworks.exe
Memory 1 28,020 KB 27,552 KB
Memory 2
-
4,940 KB
Virtual Mem 1 13,080 KB 16,536 KB
Virtual Mem 2
-
2,076 KB

Word takes up more memory total, but Writer uses more in the main process.  It is not a big difference.

Here are the CPU usage graphs opening and closing each program.

 
Writer
Word
Open
Close

The results so far are enough to make me want to use Writer, but I wanted to test a large file and HTML generation.

To test large files, I used a 4.8 MB text file.  I opened the program and Notepad, copied the text, saved it, closed the program, and opened the saved file and resaved it.

 
Writer
Word
Copy & Paste
7:36.25
43.04* 22:40.36*
Pages
2599
2683
Memory 1
42,324 KB
52,084 KB
Memory 2
-
4,936 KB
Virtual Mem 1
43,236 KB
31,086 KB
Virtual Mem 2
-
2,076 KB
Format
.sxw
.doc
Size
2.1 MB
9.34 MB
Save
1:07.05
16.24*
Close
2.36
12.42``
Open Saved File
1:06.63
26.26
Resave
1:26.26
22.59

* it opened in just 43.04 seconds, but it spent the next 22 minutes automatically spellchecking, with the CPU usage at 100% most of the time.  Sometime during this, it autosaved, putting the CPU into the red zone for about 30 seconds.
``Oops... It was still "repaginating"

Word used more memory, but was faster, sort of.  Writer made a smaller file than the original text document, so it must have compressed it.

The last thing I tested was making HTML pages.  I use Dreamweaver now, but I know a lot of people still use Word.  I did once and the page was very redundant and had useless "MSO" stuff. 

  Writer Word
Plain 8.22 MB 7.94 MB
14 PT Bold 9.48 MB 15.7 MB

They were roughly the same for plain text, but Word was terrible when formatting was added.  Word also had unused data at the top, like declaring fonts, but I only used one.  I wanted to compare this to Dreamweaver, but it froze for about 2 hours trying to copy in the text.

 

Your results may vary.  Many people say OO.o is slower, but that was not true on my computer.  I'm not trying to make either office suite look bad.  Some people say Abiword is better than OO.o, but I have not tried it.

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