@J: Microsoft are not trying to offer a standard
Microsoft's directors are bound by law to do whatever maximises their profit and/or share price - the "shareholder return".
If a common standard file format existed across the industry, this would hugely increase competition and vastly reduce their Office profits.
By law, then, they must try not to let this happen.
For more than 10 years they've been able just to do that by ignoring the idea and relying on their market monopoly to be self-reinforcing: ie, because that other company you work with is going to send you a .DOC or a .XLS and you will need Microsoft Office to read it.
But at last, standards organisations are threatening to intervene.
What to do? Join the development of the new standard, and try to subvert it in practice by failure to comply perfectly (hello IE)? Not bad, but will bring significant difficulties and repercussions. You'll be clearly the bad guy.
Better is to offer a new "open standard" yourself, which looks good but which you know (because you designed it) has enough holes in it that you can indeed in future claim to be following the standard, while Office files still will not work properly in rival products.
It's not hard to follow and it's not machiavellian or anything: it follows directly from "directors must by law maximise shareholder return". If you were unfortunate enough to find yourself the director of such a firm, you would by law have to approve such action yourself. ("Do no evil" is ever-so-slightly topped by "maximise shareholder return or find yourself in court".)
And of course you don't get to make (or to stay) director of a public company without liking this idea of maximising your own pot of money at whatever cost to the public good.
If you vote Labour, Tory, Republican or Democrat - all of whom are organisations paid for by big business - they will continue to deliver you a world where companies own everything and where their directors are first and foremost bound by this law, and are allowed to pursue it with minimal interference. It's a stupid foundation for any society. Considerably more "interference" for the public good is required - as here.
If you choose to vote Labour, or Tory, or Republican or Democrat based on which one is promising more on a particular topic - promising fractionally lower taxes, say - then you deserve this society you're implicitly asking for. You deserve Microsoft and the way it behaves. (Or rather, since you're all Apple and Linux fanboys here, you inflict Microsoft, and the way it behaves, on the defenceless majority of society.)
Make your vote count. Don't vote for Corporations Maximising Profits At Whatever Cost To Society.