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The 1990s and Beyond – The Dominance of Microsoft in the Operating System Market and the Challenges It Faces:
On 22 May 1990, Microsoft introduced Windows 3.0 all around the world with an extravagant publicity and events that cost about $ 10 million. Windows 3.0 was well-received. Microsoft continued to take advantage of its dominance in operating systems by bundling the application software with operating systems and by taking advantage of its intimate knowledge of the source code of the operating system.
In April 1991, IBM announced a new version of OS/2 – release 2.0. The new operating system was said to have cost $ 1 billion to develop and was designed to replace all previous operating systems for IBM-compatible computers, including Microsoft’s own MS-DOS and Windows. However, despite the sound technical merits of OS/2, IBM continued to lose ground against Microsoft – partly because of a lack of appealing software and partly because of failure to market it effectively (Ichbiah and Kneeper, 1991).
Failure of OS/2 resulted in further dominating position for Microsoft Windows. This position was further reinforced in 1995 with its release of Windows 95 which was an immediate success. Since then, it has introduced several other versions of Windows including Windows 2000 and Windows XP.
Despite its successes and the dominating position of the Windows operating system, Microsoft faces several challenges. One is the US Department of Justice’s lawsuit against Microsoft charging that it had used its dominating position illegally. While it had lost in District Court, the case is currently pending in the Appeals Court.
The other challenges have to do with the future of the operating system as such. The advent of the Internet has opened up new possibilities and challenges. First, there are open-source systems like Linux, which is available freely online to anybody who wants to view, download or adapt it. This clearly threatens Microsoft’s dominating position. Second, the Internet may provide a platform in which operating system may become much less important. In this rapidly changing environment of computing and information technology, it is extremely difficult to say which direction the operating systems will take.