Microsoft, goes to the OEM's, says would you like to sell my products (yes, install MSFT software into their hardware, I fully understand this concept);
They both agree. MSFT says, if you sell (install) my software and resell it to the public, we will be exclusive partners.
Anothers words, if HP wants to sell MSFT in their machines, it's done under an exclusive arrangement. If HP says NO, fine, I won't sell you my product.
This is not illegal in the USA. This is done Everyday. These arrangements are more common than not.
If you want to sell Sony TV's, you must SIGN a contract with SONY. Sony is NOT sold in most electronic stores. Mitsubishi TV's are not sold by Circut City. They WON'T SELL them to Circut City.
STATE FARM is sold by EXCLUSIVE independent contrators.
The list is endless. For many similar reasons.
MSFT can refuse to sell their products to anyone (not a crime). In my case, we will only allow a certain few people to distribute our product. We want them selling our product, hungrily, desparately, with all their might. If our agents have every thing in their stable, they may not point out all the positives of our product, just plunk down all their wares and let someone choose by chance.
I was always surprised that MSFT would sell their product to IBM, when IBM had a competitng product (OS2). Why should I (analogy) have my product in the stores showing that IBM WORKS GREAT with My product AND my competitors, F'ck them. Wouldn't give them the benefit of saying their product is equal to mine. It was foolish for them to do this.
The US DOJ didnot say this was illegal. This was fodder for the news and general public. Mere manipulation of your emotions. It plays well on TV. Its not sinister. It actually is a good thing (that's another story)
The issue is (primarilly) has MSFT become a monopoly in this industry. Answer from most people would be yes. Second issue is: will this continue or how should it be rectified. Actually from here, it gets especially complicated.
It's not a "crime" to become a monopoly. It happens.