Re: the challenge is the downstream publishing process
"MS's dominance of the writer, spreadsheet, and power point market is probably an even more odious result of their OS monopoly"
It's exactly the other way round. It was Excel, followed by Word and PowerPoint, that propelled Windows to be the OS people wanted. Excel allowed accountants, sales and managers (who control company money, remember...) to do what would have required add-ons and complex setups in Lotus 1-2-3, especially graphics (and mixing them with data) and printing on laser printers. Excel was much easier to use, and made people ask for Windows. Same for Word among the non WordPerfect addicts.
When moreover OLE was introduced and you could easily put a spreadsheet or a graph into a word document or a slide and keep everything in sync, Windows became what most office people wanted.
Especially when competitors like Lotus and Borland/WordPerfect made their best to kill their own products with sloppy releases and bad GUIs.
Without Office, Windows would have never become what it is now. Nobody then cared much about the OS itself, which offered very little by itself, but a shell to run applications.