Microsoft Office 2008 is a huge disappointment

by Volker Weber

Take a look at this screenshot. Notice the memory footprint of Microsoft Word after loading a 100 kB document without any embedded pictures. It gives you an idea of how bad this software is. It loads a lot slower than the PowerPC code of Office 2004. We also experienced several crashes of Microsoft Word where it would just go away. Excel does not have many of the interesting features of the 2007 Windows version. And the list goes on.

[Thanks to Benno for the screenshot and the heads up.]


Sigh, meanwhile I have managed to downgrade to Office 2004. For all those in the same mood, there is good news: After reinstalling Office 2004 all your applications come back with their settings prior to the upgrade to Office 2008 (and deinstallation of Office 2004). This said including Entourage in case your mails where on IMAP. (Yes, no comments please, I really use Entourage and like it).

I can't remember that I ever downgraded a software after actually buying the newer version. What a disappointment.

Benjamin Stein, 2008-03-05

I've been using OpenOffice for a few years now, and been saving the files as Microsoft Office files when I need to send them to other people in the company. Nobody has even noticed that my files were not created with Microsoft Office.

Mika Heinonen, 2008-03-05

Interesting. I guess that is not fixing Office 2008, or is it?

Volker Weber, 2008-03-05

I've been using Nisus on OS X and saving everything as RTF. So far, no complaints. I still have Office 2004, but I'd rather use something else for a spreadsheet program.

And based on this, I'm not going to bother with 2008. Microsoft is really tanking their software. Every client I have hates Vista with an anger I haven't seen before.

Jon Johnston, 2008-03-05

I love the "Learn to drink Quickr" ... nothing to do with your posting, but I really enjoyed the "quickr drinking" message :)

Mary Beth Raven, 2008-03-06

Although I don't like Office 2008 and more than the next person I was surprised to see that you are using 2.53 GB... I launched Word 2008 and opened a old bill of mine (have also been using Open Office for a few years now) and am "only" using 198 MB (1.19 GB virtual). The document was 28 KB with an in-line (OLE type thingy :o) Excel sheet.

ursus schneider, 2008-03-06

I was seeing the same thing on my machine. Just went back to iWork and am much happier.

Kirk Kuykendall, 2008-03-06

Don't worry, the next version of Office will fix that. How many years have we been hearing that one?

Ed Maloney, 2008-03-06

I hope Lotus Symphony will compete also on Mac.

ciao marco

Marco Foellmer, 2008-03-06

@ursus schneider:

I think that the memory consumption is growing when you save the document. Never mind. Let MS debug this problem. I went back to old version.

Benjamin Stein, 2008-03-06

It doesn't seem that long ago that I programmed a very usable little word processor into 16kb of RAM on my ZX81 (although... perhaps it was. I was young and foolish then). I don't doubt that Microsoft Word on Mac has a little more functionality than my awesome creation, but what, fundamentally, does a word processor need to do, that can excuse taking up that kind of space??

Well, I guess the other bit of (slightly related) good news is that the Microsoft programmers have instead been concentrating all their attention on Windows Server 2008, which is looking like a really strong product: it might take away a lot of the bad taste left in the mouth by Vista and other recent aberrations, at least for sysadmins.

Nick Daisley, 2008-03-06

Is this sreenshot really correct. I can not believe that safari is using 1 GB virtual memory. On my Windows machine Firefox uses 60 MB virtual memory after heavy use. Is virtual memory on Mac OS X something different than on other operating systems?


Ralf M Petter, 2008-03-06

@Ralf: Yes, virtual memory on Mac OS X is something different. On UNIX, applications agressively allocate memory, even if they may never come to use it. This makes no difference to the user, because no physical memory or swap is wasted for the unused allocations, but it makes a favorable difference to the kernel programmers.

If you look at the column "VM Size" in the Windows Task manager, you see the virtual memory on disk that the process uses. On Mac OS X, the "Virtual Memory" column in the Activity Monitor shows used memory + allocated, but unused memory + shared memory - none of which necessarily are on disk.

On Mac OS X, you have to look for swapping (page-in/page-outs) and for real memory usage of individual applications.

Timo Stamm, 2008-03-06

Anyhow, 2.53 GB real memory is far too much for a standard text processing appplication. Most professional applications - the ones you would expect to require a well equipped computer - don't use that much memory.

Timo Stamm, 2008-03-06

-Anyhow, 2.53 GB real memory is far too much for a standard text -processing appplication

Its to much for anything that dont contain the word server in it.

a bug is a bug is a bug

Flemming Riis, 2008-03-06

Vowe: and people thought you were only out to "get" IBM/Lotus...

Tony S Lee, 2008-03-06

I, too, am so irritated by this. I use a "dual-dual" Mac Pro (i.e. Dual Core, Dual Proc) and have found the performance of Office '08 so much worse than '04. I can't conceive how a program that will run native on the massive Intel processors in my machine performs so poorly in comparison to a program running inside a type of emulation layer. I have oodles of RAM in this machine and I'm not so concerned (although I am in other ways) with RAM use as I am the poor performance. '08 is simply doggish compared to '04 and that doesn't make any sense...

Steven N Fettig, 2008-03-06

Tony, I just tell it as it is. It does not matter whether it is about Microsoft or about Lotus.

Volker Weber, 2008-03-06

@Timo Thanks for the explanation, but the real memory use is still very high compared to that what i see on my windows and on my linux machine. if i have a look on my Firefox in the taskmanager after heavy use with many tabs open i have a memory consumption real and swap of 60 MB and not 190 as on the screenshot. Are the Mac OS X applications such a memory hog? I can not believe this, because everyone is so much exited how good the performance is on Mac OS X.


Ralf M Petter, 2008-03-07

After opening a 175KB doc I was using 170MB. After saving a couple of times it went up to 176MB. I don't know how Benno got it up so high. My Office 08 startup and operation is faster than 04. I'm quite pleased with this. Maybe 08 accesses the disk more frequently than 04, accounting for people experiencing a slowdown - this isn't an issue anymore since I replaced the 5400RPM drive with a 7200 on my MBP.

OpenOffice 3 beta was supposed to be out in March or April and was to be released simultaneously/natively on Win/Lin/Mac from now on. No more X. I'm pretty sure this is the way I'll be going.

Asad Quraishi, 2008-03-07

@Ralf: Right now, my takes 55 mb real memory with a few tabs open. Last week I was debugging a Flex app with a memory leak, and Safari took more than 1 gb. You really can't tell typical memory usage from a single screenshot.

OS X eats a lot of RAM. Maybe not as much as Vista, but certainly more than Windows XP.

Timo Stamm, 2008-03-07

Old archive pages

I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


Paypal vowe