Are "lock-ins and document format changes/obfuscation" honestly put forth as "competing with free?" It seems to me that this is best classified as "desperately preventing competition." Unless my grasp of the English language fails me, "competition" would enable a) better price, b) better features, or c) increased convenience compared to other offering similar products.
It seems that Microsoft is not really doing any of these things, but rather is leveraging it’s existing near-monopolies in various areas in a combined fashion in order to maintain it’s near-monopolies in those same various areas. I suppose looked at through the right filers, the cross integration could be viewed as “increased convenience,” but I personally think that’s stretching it a little. The reason I make that statement has to do with changes like the Ribbon bar. The Ribbon bar could well be viewed as an “increased convenience” feature, if only the original features has remained an option. Instead, by making it a mandatory feature, they are locking new users into by getting them familiar with their interface in the hopes that they will then reject more traditional ones. For that matter, cross integration would things like Sharepoint could be viewed as competitive, if only others were even able to compete. Where are the APIs allowing the construction of a Sharepoint-like product by competitors?
I realise that antitrust, monopolies and competition are touchy areas, (especially amongst USians,) however I just can’t see Microsoft’s perpetual “mandatory changes” as anything other than lock in. If you upgrade one application to get a feature you want, you will be forced into upgrading them all; an expensive proposition to say the least.
Anyway, that was ranty and probably incoherent: I just wanted to bitch about the idea that Microsoft “competes with free.” They don’t. I’m going to get coffee now…hey, thanks for my coat…