In the 1990s, Microsoft experienced a level of growth that was unprecedented in personal computing or any other industry. It was all tied to the success of Windows, an operating environment that many, including IBM, once Microsoft’s biggest partner, had initially written off. But where Windows had entered the 1990s with just a few million users, by the time the 1990s ended, it accounted for several hundred million users and over 90 percent usage and market share.
Microsoft’s success in the early 1990s wasn’t just about Windows. Instead, the firm parlayed its success as the gatekeeper to personal computing by establishing a family of productivity applications and then systematically destroying the competition, leaving companies like Ashton-Tate, Borland, Lotus, WordPerfect, and many others in its wake. It expanded into networking and workgroup computing, ending Novell’s leadership in those markets. It pushed NT into workstations and servers, defanging Sun Microsystems and other makers of high-end Unix systems.