OpenOffice tests show it's progressively getting slower

An effort to effectively benchmark the relative speed of OpenOffice applications has turned up evidence that its applications have become slower with each new version.

Users wanting to break away from Microsoft Windows and Office have had little viable alternatives when looking for competing products. Many of those interested in something other than Microsoft Office have chosen the OpenOffice suite of software, which offers programs and services similar to Microsoft's software suite.

Each new release of Open Office offers a slew of performance improvements, but at the same time may bloat the software so it operates more slowly. Yesterday, the independent blog OpenOffice.org Ninja posted several benchmarks providing an analysis of the continuing decline of the speed of OO.

The benchmarks tested included: starting OpenOffice, opening a new document, using the down arrow to scroll from top to bottom of a document, exporting the document, and closing the document and the OO suite. Each test is repeated multiple times to ensure outside factors are limited within the test results. The test battery as a whole was run for 10 total passes, with each pass following a cold start when results are not saved in cache memory. Each test run of five different variables provided 500 measurements and more than 5,500 measurements from 11 different versions tested.

OO boots up faster the second and third time because the HDD information has been cached to the computer's memory. The first time OO starts, an application is loaded into memory, fonts are initialized, Java runtime is initialized, configuration files are read, software updates are searched for, and external documents may be imported. OO's startup routinely adds stress to a system's CPU, memory, and HDD.

"OpenOffice.org startup performance is critical to the overall perception that the application is quick," the team writes.

But in multiple tests, the testers discovered OO is slowing down with each release, even if functionality of the software suite is increasing. However, certain program segments are increasing in speed even while the program overall slows down. Faster computer hardware over the years makes up for the difference, the team says.

In perhaps the most unusual suggestion we've seen in quite some time, users who want faster operation are advised to use older versions of OpenOffice. "OpenOffice.org doesn't compel users to upgrade," the testing team writes, "so you are welcome to continue using older versions."

Besides Microsoft Office and OpenOffice, users wanting office software can choose Abiword, StarOffice, and NeoOffice, among others. Furthermore, cloud-based services such as Google Docs and Zoho offer a unique opportunity to save documents online and have them easily accessible to any PC with an Internet connection.

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