Originally Posted by anonymouse
MS Office did not put Wang out of business, not even out of the word processing business by itself. MS Office was not competing against Wang, it was competing against Lotus, WordPerfect, Quattro, etc., all of which were priced competitively. Admittedly, some of these players were late to the Windows game (although, this is at least partly because MS made it difficult for them to not be late) but it is also the case that MS included undocumented APIs in Windows exclusively for the use of Office products. There was no level playing field. MS leveraged its control of the OS into control of the office productivity software market.
Was this a massive win for users? I don't think so. It's resulted in the complete elimination of competition in this software category (sorry, but, OpenOffice is not offering real competition at this time), and users are paying for it in price, usability, and bloated inefficient software.
I've never liked Word on either the PC or Mac. And I'd use iWork on the Mac if Apple gave me the simple option to save in .doc or .docx - which I need to work on the files on PC's and share them with the 99% of the non-iWork using world - as the default save instead of having to do a dance involving going to the Finder to delete duplicate files.
(Just what the world needed - more proprietary formats for word processing and spreadsheet files)
But my Word processor of choice is still WordPerfect because of the total control provided by its reveal codes function (and it will save in .doc/x) - and the only reason my next Mac will be outfitted with Windows and virtualization software.
It's good to see I'm not the only one who remembers MS's tactics during the DOS/Windows switch when it promised ISV's a) continuing DOS development and b) promised the world it had set up a "firewall" between its OS and Applications groups so that all ISV's would have the same access to API's at the same time MS Office programmers got it.
So here's a history lesson for y'all:
The PC trade press (at that time primarily InfoWorld and PC Week) openly scoffed at the assertion. Meanwhile WordPerfect, #1 in word processing at the time, took MS at its word and invested huge resources in grafting its own mostly graphical UI to develop the interesting but doomed WP 6.0 for DOS - which left relatively few resources available for building a true Windows version.
By the time the trusting folks in Utah who bought into MS's gospel of "co-opetition" grasped they'd been snoggered and turned all their efforts to Win development (which was their bad in retrospect), MS Word for Win was by default grabbing huge gains in market share, and WP for Win was nowhere to be seen month after month after year - and WP was complaining loudly that MS kept shifting the Win API's every time their beta was stable.
And the line from one of those two publications I'll never forget (I think it was PC Week) was that the motto in the Windows API group was "the coding's not done until WordPerfect won't run." While oddly, the "firewalled off" Word coding group had no trouble keeping up with the changes.
When WP for Win was finally released, they launched a massive ad campaign showing fleets of semi trucks delivering the product to the pent-up masses, but it still had issues for some time and the damage had been done.
And when Novell's Ray Noorda - also in UT's "Salt Valley" - and also being "co-opteted" into irrelevance launched an ego-driven, ill-conceived and way too late effort to compete from the Server thru OS thru the Office level by picking up the corpses of DR-DOS, WordPerfect (and the product which became GroupWise), Borland's Quattro Pro and the Paradox database - all with separate code bases, and dBase faltered, the PC OS and Office and Server and Messaging landscape we see today took shape.
The main PC software survivor of that time, outside of smallish Quicken (which I believe was only saved by the Justice Dept keeping MS from gobbling it up), chastened and restructured IBM, no longer in the "IBM PC" biz, nor several others it used to compete in, vibrantly resurgent Apple and MS itself - turned out to be iconoclastic Adobe, which fought off MS's attempts to horn in on image editing, and somehow turned PDF and Flash into (flawed) standards.
Leaving the present and future stage filled with the cloud and iDevice players. Where MS is less dominant, a more conservative competitor after its collisions with the US gov't and the EU, but not out of it. And you all know the others up to now - with Apple, Google and MS the media focus.
But paradigm shifts occur constantly in the tech world, and each opens new opportunities for disruptive tech to emerge. So it'll always be a riveting story. Even if I still miss WP being the standard for my main axe.