Finally I found a solution to set per-user file association! I've been looking for this for quite some time, but never found a software that would let me do this.
Then I came across the registry entry HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\ which is where file associations are stored for current user (obviously). Maybe it's been mentioned here before, but this really has been bugging me so I thought I'd just post here in case anyone else was looking for it.
Now it's as simple as copying the key from HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\ and changing the default open command in the latter. That way there's a default system association, i.e. .doc -> MS Word, that's overridden by the current user's setting, i.e. .doc -> TextMaker/OpenOffice/whathaveyou
Now if only there was a piece of software that would let me do this without bothering with the registry, I'd be happy. Any takers? It would make for a nice coding snack, I suppose.