Re: staying ahead
The biggest damage Microsoft did, IMO, was their mucking with the Interent. We're *STILL* suffering from that with 'apps' built on some of their browser versions and Net technologies, keeping users, especially in the enterprise, from moving on. They were designed to kill the open and cage people in, and they used their monopoly powers to pull it off.
Then there were the more shrewd and shady things like brower integration to the OS, or making competing browsers and video technolgies not work properly, or difficult to install. Or changing the file formats for Office to thwart compatibility efforts. Some of these things might be considered OK moves unless you're a monopoly.
And I hear you on the phones, I still can't believe the average person spends that much on a phone plan. However, as someone who went through the Palm days and such, I totally get why Apple's iPhone took off. It was the smart-phone everyone was dreaming about in the days of semi-smart phones. I know people laughed at the 'magic' language with that and the iPad, but even though we're now getting used to it, I'm still kind of blown away by the accomplishment (and I have a tech and electronics background).
Also, don't forget how many times Microsoft tried to enter the tablet market. If you look on my website, you'll still find the articles I wrote about why they would fail, in response to all the articles of amazement and praise from the tech sites (probably including this one). I was always a bit disgusted to the extent that Microsoft was the media-darling through those years... kind of shows the whole money-talks thing, huh?