One of the many benefits of open source software is that it offers some protection from having programs disappear or stop working. If part of a platform changes in a non-compatible way, users are free to modify the program so that it continues to work in the new environment. At a level above the software, open standards protect the information itself. Everybody expects to be able to open a JPEG image they took with their digital camera 5 years ago. And, it is not unreasonable to expect to be able to open that same image decades from now. For example, an ASCII text file written 40 years ago can be easily viewed today.
Having an office file standard is all well and good. For this to be useful, however, you have to be able to see how well various office applications support it. Knowing that many applications are dedicated to supporting — and improving their support for — a file standard is a good way to try to ensure that the office document you save today can be properly opened in 40 years’ time.
Submitted by: Ben Martin