For years and years big companies have accumulated vast amounts of documents and other types of information. It is of course assumed that the documents will remain readable for a long period of time, but since most companies use a proprietary document format where the Microsoft Word document is the leading standard, one can not be certain of being able to read these documents further down the road.
Document management for an individual or a small company is probably a minor issue, and should it be necessary to convert documents down the road it can probably be done given enough manual labor and time set aside for it. Big companies however, have a vast amount of documents which makes this inconceivable as a reasonable approach.
Other services throughout the society does not have this deficiency, and take chocolate ice-cream for example. If one is not satisfied with the current supplier of chocolate ice-cream, just switch to one who can provide a more appealing option while still retaining the o-so-delicious chocolate flavor. Running Microsoft Windows on a computer is very common, and if a computer does not meet one’s standards, it is just a matter of acquiring another computer and continue running Windows on the new machine as usual.
Why can this not be the case with documents?
Why is it impossible for me to write a document in Microsoft Office and if I later find out that I no longer have access to Office or can’t use it, not be able to open the document using another word processor?
Of course you can, using the standardized OpenDocument format. The problem is that its support is not widespread enough and the number one reason is that Microsoft Office does not currently support it out of the box. This will probably not change anytime soon, but it is still important to get the word out to people. These people in turn affect more people, which in turn may affect businesses, public working groups and the government.
In time we will hopefully have a widespread format in use which anyone can read, regardless of their software platform or having enough money to pay for licenses and software.