From Help Desk, by yours truly.
Once upon a time there was a group named OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), a
"not-for-profit, global consortium that drives the development, convergence and adoption of e-business standards."
The purpose of OASIS was, simply, to come up with a bunch of standards that its members would agree on, so that when business technology was built it would operate in such a way so that it would work everywhere. The groups sponsors included giants in the computer industry, such as Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and even Microsoft. The group would meet to try and work out, for example, a standard way to exchange information about security vulnerabilities of applications exposed to networks, or a universally accessable system for writing structured documents using SGML or XML. Things that were useful, in other words, for business that needed to transmit information from one place to another without worrying about whether or not the place receiving the information was going to understand what was being sent.
One day OASIS decided it would be a great idea if there was an open standard for word processing application suites that provided a universal file format for text documents, spreadsheets, charts, and graphics. This standard, which they called OpenDocument, was a royalty-free file format that used another standard, XML, as the way that information in these documents would be stored. Any word processing program could use this standard royalty-free, and any word processing program that did use this standard would be able to read a file created by any other word processing program that also supported this standard. Suddenly it was possible to focus on creating your information instead of worrying over which program to use to create it.
On May 23, 2005, OASIS' members approved the OpenDocument standard.
On August 29, 2005, Peter Quinn, Chief Information Officer of the Information Technology Division of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced that the state would use OpenDocument as its official documentation standard.
Shortly thereafter, Microsoft had a cow.