It was a shitty period. There was a sense of futility to building software. You could build small software, but as soon as you reached a certain scale, particularly if you were a platform company, Microsoft would decide that they'd like to take your revenue, so they'd box your software out of their operating system with incompatibilities, launch their own competitor, and eat your lunch.
The only sane strategy at the time was to try to anticipate what areas of computing Microsoft would likely never enter. But even that is Russian Roulette.
So, in 2013, yes. It's "obvious" now that Microsoft couldn't have possibly retained the control they had. But many of us have deep recesses in our brain that are still shocked that we got here.
Sounds like Apple and the 00's.
The thing is, since Apple releases so many new features and software with updates while Microsoft leaves unfinished, crappy software for a decade, you can find dozens of stories like this about Apple.
So many of their default features were popular third party programs that got rebuilt by Apple in-house.
Who will be the MSFT of the '10s, I wonder.
When Windows was the only game in town, that was not true.
I thought Google had already established themselves there by pulling all the free APIs that people had built businesses on top of.
Microsoft happened to steal a very small part of IBM's monopoly, which got bigger over time, but IBM's revenues are still bigger than Microsoft's even 32 years later. (And IBM has been spinning off or selling whole businesses along the way, eg the PC business to Lenovo; spinning off Lexmark).
I was talking to one US corporate IT manager who said IBM was still a third of his budget cf 3% for Microsoft.
Big picture: Microsoft's monopoly has always been much smaller and less powerful than the IBM monopoly used to be. However, in time, all tech monopolies tend to get largely undone by new technologies.
Although in the case of Netscape, they just coerced all of the OEMs not to include it.
Microsoft did not have to do much with this type of competition.
Around 2000, Linux was on the scene and like a lot of people I got the hell out of the MS ecosystem and never looked back.