Well, the first thing that happened was that the users stopped reading the documentation.
Roger Wright wrote:When MS discovered that they have no talent for writing technical manuals, instead of hiring people who can write, they just quit providing documentation.
Old memory: I was working in an office landscape then, and heard the guy in the cubicle across the walkway receive a phone call - he was a support guy for the Fortran compiler (it is that long ago!). Obviously I could hear only one side of the conversation- It went like this:
Yes, what is your problem?
I understand ... Do you have a Fortran manual at hand?
Could you open it on page 147?
Good. Will you read out to me the first paragraph on that page?
Oh sure, that's what we are here for, to help you with your problems. Have a good day!
The fun thing is that this support man never picked up his own Fortran manual to find the right page; he took it all from memory.
So all companies stopped writing manuals, more or less. (Some environments never had any - I refuse to call *nix man pages 'technical manuals'). Those companies providing 'something' on paper should be ashamed for calling it 'documentation'. More than 30 years ago, I saved in my scrapbook a comic drawing of a totally broken down man, weeping at the psychiatrists desk. The psychiatrist tries to comfort him: "Having been diagnosed as a dyslectic doesn't mean that you have to give up a writing profession - you can still make a great career in computer documentation!"
Practically speaking, no companies provide good documentation, and hasn't done so for several decades. If you ask for manuals, textbooks, tutorials, they say that they leave that kind of stuff to independent writers and publishing houses. But even those writers usually deliver mediocre quality. One part of it is the readers' expectations: I buy several books that have a very high rating and lots of recommendations on Amazon and other sites, and when I get the book, it proves to be a mess, poorly organized, terribly useless examples, extremely wordy with lots of unnecessary repetitions yet missing essential information, usually with a useless index (sometimes not updated from the previous edition, so the references are all wrong!)
I never had the impression that MS documentation is (/was) any worse than the others. They are all that bad!