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I am going to be migrating to Xubuntu; I have a question on docx formats. I have quite a few hundred proprietary docx files. I want to be able edit them w/o the formatting getting destroyed and rendering unreadable in Office. Would it be best to convert these to a completely different format? If so what is a good format that supports rich formatting? Can it be used in Office?

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The file format .docx controversially slipped through the standardization process, being declared an open standard on November 2008 called Open Office XML. It is still apparently patent encumbered, however. Richard stallman who I would consider an authority on this, has stated "Microsoft offers a gratis patent license for OOXML on terms which do not allow free implementations."

Your best course of action is open the files in Open Office and save them in the one of the truely open variants of ODF (OpenDocument Format). You will almost certainly have minor formatting issues on opening the files in Open Office but it will be worth this pain to have the data in a truly open and free document format.

Additional reading on this can be found on the wikipedia article - Microsofts Office Open XML

Also the wikipedai article on OpenDocument Format

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docx support on OOo is quite horrid in my experience- if you want comparability, save them as office 97 or 2000 files from ms office if possible - it works perfectly on nearly everything you throw it at. Unless you use really advanced stuff, the older binary formats tend to work better, and are better supported than MS's version of Office Open XML (which varies from the standard they submitted) on most office suites.

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I'd just leave them as .docx -- .docx, although developed by Microsoft is actually an open standard (a form of Office Open XML), and can be read by not only MS Office, but Libre/Open Office, AbiWord, etc.

Editing them in an application other than MS Office does run the risk of small changes and differences being made, depending on the complexity of your documents, but I doubt you'd have better luck switching to another format.

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Open schmopen - even MS Office doesn't properly support their own standard. – Piskvor Sep 9 '11 at 11:29

Both and Microsoft Word 2010 can be set to use "OpenDocument XML" (ODF) instead of Microsoft's "Office Open XML".

When you first start a freshly installed Word 2010, it offers this choice describing "OpenDocument XML" as being for greater compatibility with other products.

Personally I'd consider plain text markup in UTF-8 encoding. Assuming the desired richness of "rich formatting" is titles, headings, emphasis, hyperlinks, images, tables, quotations, TOC and probably not a lot more.

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