The Microsoft .doc file is obsolete and .odt is the new standard. How did the change occur? Who killed Microsoft?
The older generation, those too old for grey hair, pony tails, and Harleys tell me about the grand old days of WordPerfect. WordPerfect killed everything before it in the general purpose word processing market. Then Microsoft released Word. Word was supplied free with Windows until Word wiped out the competition. Then Word became expensive. Word used the .doc file extension for a proprietary file format.
One of the things that killed WordPerfect was the fact that the file format was so easy to read. Microsoft could easily import WordPerfect files into Word. Once Word was installed, the move from Word to anything else was complicated by the difficult convoluted format of .doc files. You could not reliably read .doc files with anything outside of Word. .doc was locked in stronger than any virus. Word and .doc became the standard.
Long after Word 98 died out, the Word 98 version of the .doc file was the standard for many companies for compatibility with suppliers and customers. The versions of Word after 98 might offer improved features but they did not need the changed file format. The Word 98 format of .doc had one other feature, it could be read by some new software from Europe named StarOffice.
The .rtf file format was Microsoft's version of an open file format during the 1980s and 1990s. .rtf was a text based implementation of most but not all of the .doc format. You could save your Word documents as .rtf instead of .doc then open the files in Abiword and several other alternatives to Word. Some people switched from .doc to .rtf. Some organisations remained locked into .doc because they used features not implemented into .rtf.
Sun purchased Staroffice and renamed StarOffice to OpenOffice. OpenOffice switched to .odt. .odt is the word processing part of the Open Document system. For a long time the Openoffice writer remained inferior to Microsoft Word then OpenOffice 3 reached a point where there were no practical objections to replacing Microsoft Word. .odt replaced both .rtf and the ancient .doc format.
Microsoft Word still had lead on OpenOffice based on market share, a pressure that keeps people buying what they know. Microsoft then started killing off the lead by enforcing unmanagable licensing restrictions and registration procedures. While Microsoft might never have reached the suicidal levels of MYOB paranoia, Microsoft were close to the edge. Once you are bitten by software that refuses to work until you refresh a registration with a company that does not have their offices open when you want to use your computer, you never want to use restricted software again. The MYOBs of the world killed proprietary software for Microsoft. People moved away from Microsoft because they no longer trusted Microsoft.
Microsoft gave up on .doc and released a version of Microsoft Word using an XML file format that is a compromise between .doc and .odt. If you think of OpenOffice as a Volkswagen that eventually grew into a Porsche and Microsoft Word as a Corvette that became a Humvee, the .docx format is Porsche body panels on Humvee mechanical bits. The change will not solve the product registration issue or convince many people that Microsoft can produce an open file format.
OpenOffice Does everything you want in Word processing. Open office might not do some of the really complicated publishing things but Microsoft Word does not do them either, you have to use QuarkXpress or equivalent. The only reason for staying with Microsoft Word is habit and the lack of time to relearn a few keystroke shortcuts.
Forget the fact that OpenOffice was owned by Sun and Sun try to infect everything with Java. You can use OpenOffice without installing Java. Sun is now owned by Oracle and Oracle will try something equally insane which will probably force a 100 percent community developed version of OpenOffice, perhaps called ActuallyOpenOffice, and life will go on. Even if OpenOffice doies, the .odt file format is now an open standard that other software can use.
There are sound reasons for switching to OpenOffice and the .odt format. There are no reasons left for using Microsoft Word or adopting the .docx file format. follow the latest fashion from Europe and switch to .odt.