OfficeBench 7: A cool new way to evaluate PC performance

New tool lets users compare how Microsoft Office runs on their PCs to what other users experience.

By Randall C. Kennedy, InfoWorld |  Software, Benchmarking, Microsoft Office

Interested in PC performance? Looking for a way to benchmark Windows 7 versus Vista versus XP? Then check out OfficeBench 7, the latest incarnation of the OfficeBench family of benchmarking tools from InfoWorld's development partner, the exo.performance.network.

What is OfficeBench? OfficeBench 7 is a cross-version test script that uses your existing installation of Microsoft Office to evaluate your PC's performance. Unlike other real-world application test tools -- which tend to break when run outside of pristine conditions -- OfficeBench 7 is designed to test your PC as is. It uses the Office COM interfaces (such as OLE Automation) to drive Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Internet Explorer through a series of scripted knowledge-worker tasks, all the while measuring how long each application takes to complete its portion of the sequence.

[ Get OfficeBench 7 and the companion Windows Sentinel PC-monitoring tools from InfoWorld, at no cost. | Get InfoWorld's Windows 7 Deep Dive 21-page PDF report to prepare for the new Microsoft OS. ]

The net result is a simple score -- time to completion, in seconds -- that makes it easy to compare different Windows and Office versions and configurations. For example, you may be running Windows XP with Office 2003 today, but you plan to upgrade to Windows 7 and Office 2007 once the new OS ships. OfficeBench makes it easy to assess the impact that this transition will have on your PC's performance. Simply run OfficeBench before and after your upgrade, then compare the results. You may be surprised at what you find.

How OfficeBench works Because OfficeBench 7 drives the Microsoft Office suite programmatically, it's immune to the kind of disruptive UI changes that break other scripts. As noted previously, this also means that OfficeBench can run unmodified across multiple generations of Office. The same script can be used to test test Office 2000, XP, 2003, and 2007, as well as the Office 2010 beta release. It's also OS version-independent, allowing you to test any of these suites on Windows 2000, XP, Vista, or Windows 7. OfficeBench 7 can even be used inside a Windows Terminal Services session. (To see how OfficeBench 7 works and what its options are, check out InfoWorld's OfficeBench 7 slideshow.)

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