Windows 2000 was largely driven by Y2K and blended elements of both the 9x and NT bases successfully. Though it fixed the shortcomings of Windows ME and Windows NT, it was marred by the massive environmental change created by the Internet, as well as the massive focus by virus writers who wanted to showcase that Microsoft just didnt understand security as well as the new Open Source community did.
Still, in comparison to both the Windows 9x and the Windows NT base products it was a solid improvement. Had it not been for the emergence of external threats it probably would have been more than adequate to the corporate task. It kind of ignored the consumer market that was starting to grow rapidly, however, and all eyes started shifting to a recovering Apple for direction in that market.
While the aging Windows 9x was clearly the product that was most successfully attacked during this time, it was Windows 2000 that took the hits as the current product in market. The end result was a massive change in Microsoft thinking similar to what happened when they discovered the Internet in 1995.
Novell and Microsoft: The Vista Impact
Oracle Muscles In on Red Hat's Support Channel
Security Vendors Have a Vista Bone to Pick
New Microsoft License Ties Vista To Hardware
Windows XP: Post Traumatic Response
Microsoft realized the threat, much like someone about to be run over by a Mac Truck, and Windows XP took the place of what was supposed to be the next major Microsoft OS. This was so that Microsoft could address those security exposures and it was largely successful. But Windows XP never really reached star status and Microsoft struggled with communicating the benefits of the product.
During this time Microsoft aggressively went after Linux, focusing their critics and given them both voice and direction and boosting Linux more effectively than their own products as a result.
Microsoft truly struggled with marketing. Companies like Intel shared this struggle, focusing on brand recognition over demand generation; the combination helped contribute to the lackluster performance of the segment. Given that its old Windows XP is adequate for most users, the biggest problem for Microsoft in the coming months will be getting people who are generally happy where they are to make a change and move to the new OS.
Windows Vista: the New Face of Microsoft