I think the fact that Windows has a monopoly seems to help a lot.
Open Source can only get better and is often designed to work cross-platform. Unfortunately no one has the funds to really compete on the same level as Microsoft which has immense profits and a huge bank account with no debt.
IBM and Novell are the only ones that can really compete (perhaps Sun and Redhat stand a small chance)
I wonder what Redhat would do if they had $50bn in the bank? Would they make Linux even better and user friendly, or make their products proprietary and closed source?
For cheap web hosting with moderate traffic LAMP is the best solution (Linux Apache, MySQL, PHP)
I don't believe that being a Monopoly (if it were) helps Microsoft develop better products in the least. In fact, I think it hurts them. When everybody is running your stuff, you can't be as agile was you want. If the "delay" of Whidbey and Yukon have demonstrated
anything, its that. A&B/Miller has kind of proven that just because you're virtual monopoly, that doesn't mean you have best product.
As for what any company would do, they would do what companies are legally obligated to do: maximize shareholder return. As alturistic as supporting open source sounds, in the end, they have no choice, they have to sell something. With Linux, you're paying
for the "value they add to it." With Microsoft, you're paying for the "value they add to you."