The difference is that Word and Excel had better GUIs and Microsoft aggressively bundled Office to businesses. IE became popular because it was packaged with Office, leading to a huge lawsuit that almost broke up Microsoft. Office was objectively better due to its ease of use by anyone, rather than people with specialised training. For example, I was working in a science laboratory position, not an office position, in the early to mid 90s, and understood how to use Word, Excel and Access without any formal training on that software. I wouldn't have had a clue how to use Lotus at that time unless someone trained me in its use. Office was simply intuitive for people who didn't necessarily work in offices. IE wasn't better, but monopolistic business practices made it popular.Maybe. I'm dubious of that explanation though. I would concede that certainly made it an uphill fight. But an uphill battle can be won IF YOU COMMIT SUFFICIENT RESOURCES. And I'm not talking about promotion. I know a lot of people say that lack of promotion is MS' problem, but I'm not one of them. Sure, promotion is a facet to marketing, but it's just one part. Branding, the message being communicated, features, support plan, pricing, things like the Insider program, and more are all critical components to product marketing.
As evidence, I point to the examples of my prior post: Word took over the fully established and entrenched and beloved WordPerfect. Same with Excel against Lotus 123 and Internet Explorer against Netscape (and then for a little while, people said the same about Chrome going against IE). In all of those cases, conventional wisdom was that MS was too late to have a chance.
I think that a company can succeed in those situations if it commits and fights hard. Further, MS today is much stronger than MS was during those prior fights. IF it thought they were worth winning, I believe it could have won.
Windows Phone could have been better than Android if it had the necessary apps. However, even offering money to developers didn't make the apps appear. Windows 10M was buggy and still lacked apps, so users left.