I seems like Microsoft does bend a little when customers complain (sometimes). Microsoft's ever-changing document formats are a hazard to robust and safe information storage. If a critical mass of customers (including governments - try asking your Congress folks) complained, and complained loudly, it might help (or not).

One brilliant solution to non-open file formats is to use OpenOffice.org and other office suites that use the free, open, and standard document format.

The OpenOffice.org file formats are fairly easy to read in your own programs.