Here’s another attempt at explaining a problem most people doesn’t realise and very few can be bothered with.
Until fairly recently there was no standard file formats for office
documents such as word processing, spreadsheets and presentations.
This ment every software package used their own file format. Having
no standard (in any industry) means one company will gain a monopoly
because there is no way to interchange and MS Office ended up on top.
There is now a standardised file format (OpenDocument) which is well
documented and has lots of programmes to read it. Alas few people
care (no reason they should, computers are tools and not everyone is a
geek) so Microsoft still have a near-monopoly.
OpenOffice etc can read MS formats but it takes up such a huge part of
our developer resources that it’s very much in Microsoft’s interests
to keep making them complex so we can’t compete with them by spending
time on useful features.
Governments should support standards to prevent monopolies and
discrimination and are often required to and so should quangos like
yourselves. The EU requires use of OpenDocument instead of MS Office
formats but often don’t follow their own guidelines.
OpenDocument (.odt, .ots etc) works great as is native with
LibreOffice, OpenOffice, Calligra, Google Docs and numberous other
programmes but alas MS only has a half hearted implementation for MS
Office so many people can’t use it without hassle. So the best way
currently to offer standards without causing people hassle is to use
long established file formats like HTML or PDF.