The steps you've listed sound like Windows not Ubuntu, are you talking about formating for the purpose of creating a bootable usb installer? Regardless, in ubuntu (or an ubuntu live cd) you can format the drive by opening gparted. 12.04 has gparted installed by default, if for some reason you don't you can always do so by typing "sudo apt-get install gparted". To format the device it must be unmounted, if it isn't already you can do so within gparted by clicking on it's parition(s) and selecting unmount. Then right click and choose "format to" and choose the desired file system. Then click apply.
If you are trying to format under windows and are having these difficulties, then try doing a format using the disk manager. You can access it from "start menu/control panel/system and security/administrative tools/computer management/disk management" it will list all storage devices, and give you the ability to eject, format, initialize. If you have trouble still, then there is a console application in windows called Diskpart it has the ability to create a new partition table, as well as format, and etc. You can find information about using diskpart here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/300415 . Make sure to use the "select disk #" command before trying to format.