For over 30 years .DOC has been the de facto standard of publishing. Created by Corel in the early 1980s for their WordPerfect suite it was adopted by Microsoft in the 1990s with their Office productivity software. Since then it has dominated the consumer and professional landscape. As PCs grew in number so did the .DOC files (with .TXT files falling slightly behind) and eventually it was simply what people used.

However whilst the days of .DOC (and the evolutionary upgrade .DOCX) are far from numbered it seems that they may have a competitor on their hands. Anyone who knows Apple knows that they’re a fan of the ‘closed garden’ approach to software. They believe that the experience of using a computer should outweigh everything else. Their mantra is to create the best user experience for their customers. This has led to clashes with developers and fans of open source software, one of the biggest criticisms of the iPhone and iPad is that users are unable to add a variety of customisations rather people are stuck using only the skins that Apple wants you to use.

But something changed today. Apple held an event.

Apple released a slew of new hardware and software products and upgrades. The press rushed to get the first photo of the new iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina but in their haste they failed to see the real story.

Apple was releasing new upgrades to its iWork suite on Mac OS X and iOS.

That in and of itself was not the shocking part. The shocking part was that they were giving away copies of their iWork suite free for all new Mac and iOS device purchases.

Over the last several years Apple had slowly been moving to this model. They had been cutting down the price of iWork programs till it was almost an impulse purchase. In order to buy copies of Microsoft Office you had to pay $199 and sell your soul. Apple just stated that they would be giving away a substantial amount of their software free of charge. This is serious.

But why would Apple do this?

iCloud.

iCloud is Apple’s answer to Microsoft SkyDrive or DropBox. It’s the program that you use to access all of your documents, songs, movies, presentations etc etc if you’re using an Apple device. Apple wants all of its users to embrace this new way of thinking computing (whatever device you’re on doesn’t matter…what matters is that you’re using iCloud) and they’re willing to risk a substantial amount of money to do it.

Now there have always been free versions of Microsoft Office out there. GoogleDocs is the most popular (along with OpenOffice) and it has the benefit of online collaboration between team members. But Apple has decided to add this to iWork for iCloud as well. They’ve basically said that everything you wanted to do with Office or GoogleDocs  you can now do with iWork and it doesn’t matter if you’re on a Mac, PC, iPhone or iPad…everything will just work!

So whilst .DOC isn’t going anywhere…it seems that .Pages will be creeping up. People don’t generally go through the effort of exporting their documents to the correct file format. With Apple’s increasing market share in computers, phones and tablets…this could be the start of a new file format war!