WordPerfect made an early commitment to an OS/2 product, betting that IBM's operating system would be the PC's future. It didn't work out that way. Microsoft bolted from IBM's side when it released Windows 3.0 and snubbed OS/2. At the same time, Microsoft was developing its Office suite for Windows, including Word. WordPerfect's proprietary printer drivers and user interface weren't a good match with the graphics-and-mouse-heavy Windows GUI, and the company seemed slow to react to Windows' growth. Plus, die-hard WordPerfect DOS users could tell you that it wasn't the same as the product they knew by heart. Novell bought its Utah neighbor WordPerfect in 1994 to create a Microsoft Office competitor that included Borland's Quattro Pro spreadsheet, but gave up two years later and sold the suite to Corel.
When it came time to fail, Novell and WordPerfect got plenty of help. Microsoft's bundling of Windows and Office made it tough for Novell to sell its suite to computer makers. OEMs that stayed "pure Microsoft" were rewarded with better deals. To make things worse, e-mails show (PDF) that Microsoft actively tried to thwart its competitor's integration with Windows 95. In those e-mails, Bill Gates says:
I have decided that we should not publish these [Windows 95 user interface] extensions. We should wait until we can do a high level of integration that will be difficult for the likes of Notes and WordPerfect to achieve, and which will give Office a great advantage.
By the time that e-mail was written in late 1994, WordPerfect was already in trouble. It's clear, though, that Microsoft had no problem in using its operating system monopoly to kick WordPerfect while it was down. Whether this case goes all the way through trial or is settled out of court, I have a feeling that Microsoft will end up paying for its role in WordPerfect's downfall.