You may know that tomorrow (Wed) is 'Document Freedom Day' - a day to promote the use
of open standards (such as, .ODT in word-processing).
If you are interested in knowing why the continued use of proprietary file formats (.doc,
.docx, .ppt, etc) are not a great idea, the presentation at: http://mfioretti.com/sites/mfioretti.com/files/2009_LEM_File_Formats_favour_Innnovation_a
may be of interest. It gives a very clear and accessible description of the problems
associated with the long-term use of proprietary file formats. One example given is the
BBC's 1986 'Domesday Project' - a digital version of the famous census document from
1086, intended to record typical life in the UK in 1986. After a couple of decades, there was
nothing in existence that could open the files!
The discussion on open/closed source software is closely related to the use of standards.
For example, continued use of MS Office will cause a proliferation of their proprietary .docx
standard (and hence, force continued use of their product), until MS decide not to support
that format anymore. i.e. if I keep using docx, I am tied to MS Office. However, a decision
to use of ODT will allow users to use any product they like, for ever - if I save a Word file in
the Open Document Format, I can open it with OpenOffice, Writely, WordPerfect, KOffice,
AbiWord (etc., etc.) - or even with MS Office.
The following sites may also be of interest: http://www.documentfreedom.org http://digifreedom.net/node/87