Tuesday, March 16, 2010

(OfficeBench): A Decade of PC Benchmarking

As OfficeBench approaches its 10th anniversary it’s time to look back at the history of this iconic test script. With over a million downloads, and with countless copies of its various incarnations in circulation around the globe, OfficeBench is one of the most widely deployed business productivity test scripts in history. And we’re still improving it, with the latest incarnation – OfficeBench 7 – available for free download from the exo.performance.network web site.

When I first conceived of an Office Automation test script, the popular benchmarks of the day – Winstone and BapCo – were static and inflexible. They only worked on stand-alone PCs, and then only with a “clean install” of the OS. Frustrated by these limitations, and needing to test Terminal Services scalability as part of my contract to Intel’s Desktop Architecture Labs, I sat down and started writing my own, “bulletproof” test script.

The net result, OfficeBench, was a first-of-its-kind linear test script, one that used the programmatic interfaces of Microsoft Office (OLE automation – a.k.a. COM) to drive the suite through a series of common business productivity tasks. The script was simple, reliable and, if necessary, could scale to tens of thousands of concurrent Terminal Services users.

Figure 1 – OfficeBench 7 ( Download )

More importantly, it worked with the existing installation of Office as configured in the runtime environment (no more clean installs). All of which helped to make OfficeBench the lightweight (less than 2MB to download), easy-to-use choice of performance-oriented IT pros everywhere.

All of which brings us to the topic at hand: OfficeBench’s 10 year anniversary. It was a decade ago this week that I released OfficeBench 1.0. Now, with version 7 “in the wild” for six months, we’ve got something even more exciting to reveal: We’re now publishing comparative OfficeBench test results from across the globe.

Using a new, interactive OfficeBench Performance Explorer widget (see below), you can now explore OfficeBench results from across the range Microsoft environments. Filter by Windows or Office version, CPU type or RAM size. The widget will apply your filters and then scour our online database of OffieBench results (almost 8500 users) to return the averaged scoring results for systems that match your specified criteria.

The OfficeBench Performance Explorer (Interactive)

It’s a great way to assess your own PC’s performance and also to see how other combinations of CPU, Memory, Windows and Office Versions perform across a selection of real-world PCs. Use the widget as a base reference for your own testing. Or simply mine the various combinations to see how changing a single criteria – for example, upgrading from XP to Windows 7 – affects the outcome.

Don’t see your particular hardware/software combination represented above? Then download OfficeBench 7 today! You’ll then be able to compare you own configuration to those of similarly equipped users while adding a unique new reference point to our growing repository of real-world performance data.

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