In the 1980s, Radio Shack parent Tandy Corp. released a graphical user interface called DeskMate that shipped with its TRS-80 and Tandy personal computers. It made its PCs easier to use and competed with Windows. Let’s take a look back.
I’ve never used DeskMate – or Tandy computers in general – but there was a whole (cottage) industry of DOS graphical user interfaces and alternative Windows shells during the 3.x days, most notably Norton Desktop. If you ever have an empty weekend you want to fill up- fire up a DOS or windows 3.x virtual machine, and go to town. You can easily lose days researching this particular technological dead end.
Those all died when Windows 95 had native multi-tasking for DOS (Virtual 86 + DPMI). Yes, there were other alternatives, and even Windows 3.1 had rudimentary support for multiple DOS programs.
But they mostly had to share the same OS instance with many hacky hooks, and unreliable TSRs, and one DOS program failing could have caused the entire machine to lock down.
My memory could be failing me, but 1995 was the time we started losing interest in alternative DOS versions (Novell DOS anyone?), DOS shells (DESQView?), Windows alternatives (GEM?), and of course entire operating systems (OS/2). Even Novell Netware went into sidelines when Windows came with basic peer-to-peer file sharing.
Moral of the story: being #2 in software world is a very risky position.