As someone who was in that industry at that time (but didn't work for
either Novell or Microsoft) the truth is somewhere between. Novell was idiotic
in overpaying for WordPerfect, it was already clear that WordPerfect was losing
market share and while more powerful than MS Word it was not as WYSIWYG (google
it if you don't know what it means). At the same time, Microsoft was
already the 800 pound gorilla and often did what I would call unethical things
to beat competitors (lying to competitors and the marketplace), even illegal
things (especially to competitors too small to fight back).
What a fascinating saga. I remember distinctly Pete Peterson's comment in
a Wordperfect newsletter at the time that he thought Windows was a flash in the
pan. It occurred to me some time later that Wordperfect lost its valuable
competitive advantage over Microsoft by being reluctant to embrace the Windows
environment early on. But then again, it was banking on OS/2 (IBM's
competing operating system) which itself was soon eclipsed by Windows.But even as much as the business side of this story, I am also intrigued by
the virtually polar-opposite paths later taken by the two billionaire principals
of Wordperfect: Alan Ashton and Bruce Bastian.