Easy, portable, secure and smart
Key features of ODF
Probably the feature of OpenDocument Format appreciated by normal users is that you won't really notice that you are using it. Things should just work as you expect - but it will do so outside of the specific product you've used to create it. And that is new - people have always assumed that their documents looked more or less the same when others viewed them, but reality was harshly different. ODF is not software, it is a well designed and flexible standard to store information in a futureproof and portable way.
"Microsoft has supported ODF, which stands for Open Document Format, since Office 2007 Service Pack 2 and made significant contributions to defining the latest version. Software engineers on the Microsoft Office team provided detailed information about Microsoft Excel's behavior so Excel's formulas will interoperate in the future with other spreadsheet programs that use ODF. And, they contributed to ODF 1.2's security standards, which will make sure you can protect information in your documents. "
- Emily Warn on http://blogs.office.com
OpenDocument Format does have a number of properties which make it unique.
- the broadest support of all formats within the industry means that documents are truly portable
- equal support for all international scripts - Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Latin, etc
- ODF documents are smaller in size than their legacy equivalents, which saves up to 75% of disk space and bandwidth
- content as well as media objects (images, movies, etc) are directly accessible and easy to work with from outside your office application
- the underlying document structure is verifiably robust - no more 'corrupt' documents you have to recreate due to unsolvable application errors, just unzip the document and access the content directly
- ODF is secure - the light-weight structure makes it easier than ever to enforce even the strictest of security policies
- ODF reuses existing standards whereever possible, which makes the standard small, robust, easy and cheap to implement and support
- ODF pays a lot of attention to accessibility for people with disabilities, and it adheres to the highest possible standards in this area
- ability to add machine processible data to the content of the document to create 'smart documents'
- it has a well-defined and concise standard for spreadsheet formulas that gets rid of many legacy bugs known to spreadsheets
ODF is the new default
In many of the latest versions of Office suites, word processors, spreadsheets and presentation software you work with, ODF is the default format. That means the application fully trusts the file format to be able to capture all of its features. Although it may seem obvious that a standard is not to be relied upon when it is not yet implemented as the default format in any product (if developers don't trust it, why should you), that is a unique feature of ODF compared to other formats such as IS 29500 (OOXML).
That is convenient for users: in fact you do not have even have to do anything special as such applications automatically create new documents directly in OpenDocument Format. This applies for instance to popular and upcoming solutions like OpenOffice.org, IBM Lotus Symphony, LibreOffice and Calligra - all of which have ODF as their default file format. When you install the latest version of Microsoft Office for Windows, you can opt to make ODF your default file format too.
The same applies to online software such as Google Docs and Zoho Office, which also use ODF as a standard. Why would you even consider storing your valuable information in a deprecated file format that was written off by the entire market, including the companies that created them, if you can have a reliable, future-proof and widely supported international standard that is supported by the same products?
If you are using alternative products that support ODF natively next to application specific formats, you just select OpenDocument format when you "save as". You can use one of these solutions to convert existing documents (eg. a .doc file) safely to ODF.