May 25, 2006 9:42 AM PDT

Microsoft: OpenDocument is too slow

A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.

The OpenDocument Format 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 ZDNet.com that compared OpenOffice.org 2.0 with the XML formats in Microsoft Office 2003. But Marino Marcich, the managing director of the ODF Alliance, said this was not a fair comparison, as it did not test Open XML itself and examined only one implementation of the OpenDocument Format (ODF).

"There's simply no Open XML product on the market yet, to compare performance," Marcich 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 behaviors."

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

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

"A skeptic 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 is trying to reinvent the wheel, while ODF freely refers to existing standards like SVG," or Scalable Vector Graphics.

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 Organization for Standardization approved ODF, a move research firm Gartner predicted would thwart Microsoft's chances of getting Open XML approved by ISO.

Yates disagreed with Gartner's analysis and said 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 International, a European standards body, 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.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.

 

Correction: This story misstated the approval process for the Open XML format. ECMA is expected to make a decision on it by the end of the year.

See more CNET content tagged:
OpenDocument Format, ECMA, Gartner Inc., documentation, SVG

27 comments

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More FUD from MS
As the article said, they are comparing one implementation of
ODF
to one of Open XML. Hardly a fair comparison.

Add to that the fact that any modern computer can easily handle
XML files fast enough that any speed difference between XML
and binary formats will only be noticable on older systems. Even
then, it really isn't all that bad.

Microsoft just doesn't want to play nice and support a format
that they didn't invent themselves. This is nothing new. Just
like when they had their own modified Java...
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MS is right - XML is not ideal for speed
Binary data 'streamed' into a file will always be faster than XML that has to parsed while its being loaded or formatted during a save. For small documents the performence difference wont be noticable, but for non trivial documents the difference is very noticable.

XML is good for transferring data between systems and apps, but not ideal when it comes to performance.
Posted by (402 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Aheh.
Yup. Because when you think Windows, you think speed and performance.
Posted by AWhiteFlame (9 comments )
Link Flag
I thought M$ Vista required a new high spec PC?
On a new Vista PC, OpenDocument should run super-fast. I can't believe the gall of Microsoft, talking about speed when their operating systems have a 20 year history of *reducing* the performance of your computer, compared to, say, Linux.
Posted by hutchike (157 comments )
Reply Link Flag
;)
"ODF just isn't fast enough. We're looking for speed people. By the way, you have to buy a new computer"
"Why, won't your document be faster?"
"Uh, yeah, but you need a terrabyte of ram and a 512mb graphics card and a terraflop of computing power just to run the OS."
"Gee, thanks Vista!"
Posted by joshuasmythe (32 comments )
Link Flag
Classic FUD
Both the earlier testers (and this article) should have focused on the fact that Microsoft has an INCREDIBLE "PR advantage" in how these formats are revealed to the public. Microsoft didn't have to show anybody anything until their own internal people had optimized the performance of their format with the ONE AND ONLY product that uses it! ODF, on the other hand, has a VAST number of applications that use it, so of course it will take a bit longer for ALL of those apps to be "optimized" to the same level.

All Microsoft has to do is pay one of those "third party researchers" (yeah, right...) to do a "side-by-side" comparison of OXML on Word 2003 vs. ODF on whichever one of the MANY apps that use it is currently the LEAST optimized and then crow "look, it's not as good as ours!" You can expect MANY of these "paid research studies" in the future. I'm just surprised ZDNet played into MS hands, they usually "think things through" in their labs tests quite a bit more...

The ZD test was pointless at this stage. It means nothing, no matter how much MS want's to pounce on it in their desperate attempts to keep us all locked in to their formats.
Posted by Yet Another Mark Johnson (66 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ridiculous`
"Both the earlier testers (and this article) should have focused on the fact that Microsoft has an INCREDIBLE "PR advantage" in how these formats are revealed to the public." Uh...right. If ODF's champion application - OpenOffice - can't show the world just how great it is, then MS Office will continue dominating.
Posted by MS_Help (4 comments )
Link Flag
Interesting Observations
I found a reason why ZDNet (and the affiliated CNet) won't say anything overtly bad about Microsoft: Microsoft sponsored or was among a few sponsors, of the "white board" series of video demonstrations on the website. It isn't the standard advertising relationship, where an article critical of Microsoft may be paired with Microsoft's own ad.
Posted by CNerd2025 (98 comments )
Link Flag
Funny...
Nobody bothered to mention the actual "performance" numbers
or qualify the baseline of the test. If I had to guess the 500ms
(millisecond) difference in the time to load/save a document is
reason enough for M$ to claim "faster".
A better question is: what is the PRICE/PERFORMANCE? When
anaylizing (any) performance comparison "how much will it cost"
is always a good question? So, Mr. Yates, please include the list
price for the software being compared and produce a price/
performance metric so we can truly understand the
"performance" debate!
Thanks.
Posted by robot999 (109 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It Will Appear To Make Plenty...
... of sense to me if "it looks like Microsoft is trying to reinvent the wheel, while ODF freely refers to existing standards like SVG," or Scalable Vector Graphics...", one reason being that I have found that previous Versions of "EXCEL" in MICROSOFT OFFICE to be well short with regards to certain functionalities and having taken a look at the Spreadsheet Application in OpenOffice I have to conclude that it does not yet make the "cut"; so, in all fairness and while I have not yet put "EXCEL" to the test, it is left to be seen just how ready for "prime time" are the Open XML Products from Microsoft!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
M$ comming clean..???
Quote: "The OpenDocument Format has come under attack from
Microsoft, which claims its Office Open XML format has
significantly better performance."
Yea right, as if Microsoft is going to come out and tell the world
that they sell crapware..!! Would you expect Microsoft to say any
less..??
Posted by imacpwr (456 comments )
Reply Link Flag
OpenDocument is Awesome!
It's what I use. Microsoft is wrong. It can save
in multiple formats and it's speed it just fine.
How fast do you need a word processor to be
anyways?!?!?!?! Oh... It's free too!!!! This story
made me laugh yet again at the backwards
'brainiacs' at MS. ROFL.
Posted by michaelbolzenius (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If You Think...
... that "OpenDocument" is as awesome you want others to believe then how come then after "Open Office" having copied from Lotus SmartSuite it appears to be less functional than Lotus SmartSuite; at least, when you take a look at the Spreadsheet... its Context Sesitive Help Menu cannot even explain what is the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) functionality... much less the much needed Economic Rate of Return (ERR) functionality; and, the same was the case with Microsoft's "EXCEL" with previous versions (I cannot say at this time if is the same with the up-coming version since I have not yet had a look under its hood)
Come on now, give us a break if you are not sure about some of the functionalities that others might be looking for in a spreadsheet program that has the OpenDocument Format Standards integrated at this juncture of the PC age. How well such applications perform while involving sophisticated computations is yet to be determined.
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Link Flag
Translation: OpenDocument is too open
MS Office is their cash cow. And without a closed file format to
lock in their customer base, people will give serious consideration
to other Office packages.

Eventually MS Office will have major competition, and that terrifies
Microsoft.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I do not understand what is being compared
Are we comparing the speed of two different formats, in two different environments, perhaps on two different platforms???

What kind of comparison criteria do we take into considaration - speed of the platform, speed of the application? We can compare the size, elegance or indexability of the ODF/MSXML document, but not the speed.

It is like saying that the trunk of Porche is much faster than the trunk of BMW - and what does trunk has to do with speed - who knows??

I am surprised that a hi-tech company is willing to publish such an absurd comparison. In my opinion even a ten year old child can see the demogogism in this kind of approach - what must MS think of it's shareholders trying to fool them like that...??
Posted by nxtwrld (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Blatant Lies - Just Plain Flat out Fabrication
The very FIRST thing that should tip EVERYONE off is this
statement:

The OpenDocument Format 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."

If the Open XML format is NOT XML, then it is neither "XML", nor
"Open". An XML document, is data. This has little to do, or
nothing to do with performance. The software that manipulates
the data is responsible for that.

ANY XML document can be encrypted, transmitted, then de-
crypted. We do this every day with software AND hardware
support. This functionality is not only built into virtually every
computer, but the transmission/reception protocols for
hardware devices as well.

So really folks. How dumb, are you going to continue to allow
Microsoft to think we all are? Speak up, and C/Net, get a
backbone, or some knowledge, when it comes to these stories.
You might even become respected again.
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Seems plain to me
"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." If the Open XML format is NOT XML, then it is neither "XML", nor "Open".

Where exactly do you think Microsoft is claiming Open XML is not XML!! All they are saying is that XML is slower than binary formats so they are making sure there implementation of the XML data is efficent. Which brings me on to this little beauty of a statement of yours

"An XML document, is data. This has little to do, or nothing to do with performance"

This is just plain wrong. It is possible to organise data and XML in a way that makes it in efficient to load/parse. Once that XML is loaded into memory it will be parsed to populate data structures if the way that data is organised means that it has to be traversed more that is necessary the loading process will be slow. If data has little to do with performance then it wouldn't be important how databases were designed, they are just data and believe me it makes one hell of a difference to performance in how their data is arranged.
Posted by hartness (1 comment )
Link Flag
standards for people not "cu$tomers"
"a deeper, richer customer experience,"

I don't want a richer "customer" experience; I want a richer "user" experience.

In one case the developer designs a product targetted at a consumer market segment. In the other case a developer designs a standard with the goal of improving people's (not faceless sources of profit) abuility to document and share information.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Explained here.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.network54.com/Forum/7505/" target="_newWindow">http://www.network54.com/Forum/7505/</a>

Just read it here.

M$ is a bunch of crybabies.
Posted by fakespam (239 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Speed is not an issue
Have used tWord processing many years from the DOS time with WordPerfect.
My company switched over to MS Office.
I do not like MS Word.
The speed of savibg the binary coded document may be optimized, the way in which illustrations are linked to the text are definitely not.
WP autoamtically wrapped the text around any illustration, and also the format of the illustration could be defined prior to inserting it.
With nMS Word I have always struggle with inserting illustrations.
If the programm does not completely leave out part of the pictures, and replaces it by red crosses, then it will continuously place at at locations that I do not like.
I would reall prefer a stable document defintion, and loose one or two seconds when saving a doc, then loosing minutes in restoring damaged doccuments or moving back and forth iluustartions to get them at the place I want.
At home, I use Opeb Office 2.0.2. It is not cripple, it is stable, and I like it.
Posted by gerben49 (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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