As I’ve said multiple times, Microsoft has every right in the universe to have its own formats
Microsoft does not have absolutely ANY rights to have their own formats, unless they document them properly and with all the needed information for implementation available to third parties free of charge. In computers, de facto standards tend to be bigger than ISO standards, and Microsoft likes to make de facto standards (look at all the "old" Office formats). ISO standards are only important to governments and maybe big companies. For the regular user it's of no interest. After all, what are the ISO approved measures and date formats, and what is USA using (that's a true lock
The issue is that individual users are not getting locked, most of them don't care about format interoperability or software migration. The only ones trapped in this vicious circle are companies, because they have to keep all their information accessible and, of course, users like us who chose the open solution.
This last part is important. My friends don't feel locked in by using Office, but I feel trapped when using OpenOffice. It's a very depressing state. I can access every file in multiple applications, but almost no one can access my files in his/her computer. This is always pissing me off, and I keep a copy of Office 2000 around just if I need it for some work for the university. Fortunately, you can always create a PDF of your work, but if you have to do a presentation, you're out of luck.
Microsoft is playing a very dangerous game here. Not only they're preventing companies from going to better? pastures, but is also keeping everyone from free interchange of information. Considering that computers are essentially based in this principle this day, they're getting out of fashion and directing themselves towards darker times with this attitude. And just for avoiding a theoretical loss of market share.
You suggest a solution: choose OpenOffice. You really know that this is not going to happen. I recommended everyone to try it, and after a week as much, they went back to Office. You can't blame them. Whatever people says, Office is still clearly (I'll get flamed...) superior to the OSS offering, and 2007 only makes this more evident (it's a very tasty piece of code).
I propose another solution: Microsoft employees, if you're hearing me, STOP THE CRAP. Yeah, you hear me right. You lost many hours of work just to create a dysfunctional format that is no much better than the previous one. Turn the back on your employers. Implement ODF as a default in the next Service Pack. Make the free readers capable of viewing ODF as well. Microsoft is going to win ultimately, because you have the best solution right now. Locking people this way like it's the Middle Ages is wrong. You make software that works and that's IMHO the thing that is keeping everyone with Microsoft. Look at all the Vista bashing, and all the "OMG! I'm going to Linux!" "Holy crap, I'm buying a Mac!". Right now the only one trying to make the switch is Zaine (BTW, I'll be witnessing the experience with attention).
Also, a plea to Sun Microsystems and the OpenOffice community: for the love of God, fix the application to load like Office does: fast and lean. Please. Oh, and in the meantime, it'll be a good solution 'til Microsoft delivers the Service Pack (because you're going to do that
) to make a multi platform reader for ODF. Promote it like hell. And ODF will win in the end.
In these days, when more and more devices are working with each other, open and well designed formats are mandatory for a better experience. Instead of ruling like software dictators, do your best to make use of good, interoperable and already designed (if there are any) formats, and focus yourself instead of good software design. People will stay with you and you'll get a clean conscience by allowing everyone to quickly adapt to different software without hassle, and ensuring that anyone can access the information with independence of the application they're using. Don't pay attention to analysts, greedy executives and lawyers. They're only in the for the money. OK, everyone is in for the money, but you get the picture.
Uhm, the last paragraph looks as it was written by the fella who began this thread... Well, long rant as always. At least I expect it to be of some interest