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Do pray tell, how many more people were brought onto the web using IE and AOL than some janky 'nix browser?

As much as everyone bitches about them, the entire reason we even have affordable desktops and laptops enabling this magical open-source revolution is because of the work Microsoft did in the 80s and 90s.

Because no one else would have filled that void...

That's like saying if Henry Ford had never mass produced cars, no one would have figured it out...

Yes MS created the PC ecosystem in the 90's, but if they hadn't, someone else would have (Apple? IBM? Maybe even Sun?). Market pressure would have eventually driven down prices, it always does...

That's not how history happened.

Apple was busy shooting itself in the foot as a boutique brand. IBM was not interested in lowering prices. Sun (and SGI for that matter) were heavily wed to the workstation and high-end server market.

Microsoft (and Intel) by careful work made it possible for cheaper hardware to still run a product people wanted, and so create the market pressures you're referring to.

They were a pure software company, and used that to enable competition in the hardware market.

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