Monday, February 18, 2008

Office 2008

I purchased Office 2008 and installed it on my MacBook Pro (4 GB/2.2 GHz/Mac OS X 10.5.2), only to find it to suffer from extremely slow start up times as reported by many users on various Mac sites. I did some investigating, and I believe I know what is wrong.

1) The problem cannot be rectified by reinstalling, trashing preference files, removing Normal.dotm, or any other Microsoft-related file that I can imagine.
2) The problem cannot be rectified by disabling WYSIWYG font menus or Project Gallery on startup, as suggested by a blogger.

When Word 2008 is launched normally with all the fonts included with a standard installation of Mac OS X Leopard enabled, Word opens properly, showing "Optimizing Font Menu" on the splash screen, then displays a blank page. At this point, disk activity use spikes to 15-20 MB/s, saturating the Read activity of the computer. This is what causes the dramatic, crippling slowdowns that other users have been reporting, and why there is often a delay with the user interface (e.g. scrolling, typing, clicking menus). At the same time that this HDD activity is peaking, two processes are allocated CPU power: ATSServer and diskimages-helper (I have FileVault enabled).

I checked out what files ATSServer had open during the HDD spike (through Activity Monitor) and I saw the following (see below). The listing changes every second or so, and I was able to grab two snapshots (below).

Therefore, I think Microsoft Word is doing something disk-intensive with enabled fonts AFTER it has "Optimized font menu".

I hope that Microsoft releases a solution to this problem soon...

First snapshot:
/Library/Fonts/Verdana Italic.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Consolas Bold.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Consolas Italic.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Corbel Bold Italic.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Constantia Bold Italic.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Constantia Bold.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Constantia Italic.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Times New Roman Bold Italic.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Trebuchet MS Bold Italic.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Trebuchet MS Bold.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Corbel Bold.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Corbel Italic.ttf

Second snapshot:
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Lucida Console.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Mona Lisa Solid ITC TT/..namedfork/rsrc
/Library/Fonts/Party LET Fonts/..namedfork/rsrc
/Library/Fonts/PortagoITC TT/..namedfork/rsrc
/Library/Fonts/Santa Fe LET Fonts/..namedfork/rsrc
/Library/Fonts/Savoye LET Fonts/..namedfork/rsrc
/Library/Fonts/SchoolHouse Printed A/..namedfork/rsrc
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Consolas Bold Italic.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Lucida Sans Unicode.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft Sans Serif.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Snell Roundhand/..namedfork/rsrc
/Library/Fonts/Stone Sans ITC TT/..namedfork/rsrc
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/MS Gothic.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Meiryo Bold Italic.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Meiryo Bold.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/Meiryo Italic.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/MS Mincho.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/MS PGothic.ttf
/Library/Fonts/Microsoft/MS PMincho.ttf

/Library/Fonts/Synchro LET Fonts/..namedfork/rsrc

When I installed Mac OS X Leopard, I chose to install "Additional Fonts" which added Japanese, Korean, Hebrew, etc fontsets to my computer.

I ended up removing all existing fonts from my computer (in both ~/Library/Fonts/ and /Library/Fonts/), and used Pacifist to extract system fonts from "Essential System Software.pkg" from the Leopard DVD. I then re-installed Office 2008 from the Microsoft DVD, and my programs launch without a hitch and no spike in HDD activity.