If all Microsoft had done is bundled a free browser with the OS, it would have never stood up in court in terms of anti-trust prosecution. It would have been a laughable case.
What the DOJ got them on, was restraint of trade issues with OEMs, restrictions on API access, deep integration of IE into the OS (lying about being able to remove it), and market place conduct through leveraging their monopoly, leading to (in the DOJ's opinion) harm to consumers. Microsoft also basically taunted the bull in the countless ways they tried to jam the government, the ways they acted like assholes at every turn (including to the judge), the quotes that came out on things they said about competition, etc. They ended up with nearly everyone against them and looked like the ultimate bullies. If you want to have a bad time, be a monopoly and pretend you're more powerful than the US Government, and pretend you can stone-wall them.
No, the only reason MS is suddenly bundling more, including Anti-Virus, is because the judgement expired in 2011.
>If you want to have a bad time, be a monopoly and pretend you're more powerful than the US Government,
Or from a realpolitik stance, if Netscape has more friends with the Clintons than you do (which they did), you're going to have a bad time. A lot of "careers" were made at the DoJ over this asinine case, that changed nothing for the better.
Bundling was the surface issue, but the antitrust violation was their undue exercise of monopoly power by refusing to let vendors bundle non-Microsoft software and using their Windows-compatible certification program as the stick to that particular carrot.
From Wikipedia on the settlement:
"The proposed settlement required Microsoft to share its application programming interfaces with third-party companies and appoint a panel of three people who will have full access to Microsoft's systems, records, and source code for five years in order to ensure compliance. However, the DOJ did not require Microsoft to change any of its code nor prevent Microsoft from tying other software with Windows in the future."
Its kind of amusing that you point to such a "realpolitik" explanation and yet would leave out that the reason it changed almost nothing at all (for better or worse) was that the Bush Administration, which was more MS friendly, came to office at the end of the case, and the Bush Justice Department abandoned any effort toward imposing any significant sanctions.