What justification is there for MS-Windows only software?

Earlier today I accepted a request for assistance from one of our product development groups. The data they've gathered is scsi bus traces, using a scsi bus analyzer from LeCroy (formerly known as Verisys and CatC). The software is available for download but that's not very helpful to me. As I've mentioned before, I run Solaris/x64 on my laptop. Since I got it in late January I've booted it to MS-Windows a total of three times. Once to install MS-Windows and the never-ending security updates, once to install SimCity4 and the scsi bus analyzer software, and once for a sanity check of my hotel room's network. I hate having to reboot in order to do stuff in MS-Windows. I'm one of those people who live and breathe Solaris --- I stopped using linux as my home desktop when I started at Sun, because the differences got too jarring. There's only one source for the software to use with this analyzer, and that's LeCroy. There's no extant or publicly available documentation on the data format that's used in the trace files either, so even if I had the time and energy to spend writing a tool myself, I wouldn't know if I missed things --- unless I rebooted into MS-Windows. Yes, I've emailed the support-AT-catc.com account requesting that they log an RFE for a java-based scsiview tracefile reader, and yes, I've also asked that they port their product to run on Solaris. I don't expect to get a response, because that's my experience with other companies which are enmeshed in the MS-Windows environment. (I'm thinking specifically of Adobe, Canon and Maxis/EA here). So what am I really complaining about? Firstly, that the company does not make their trace file format publicly available. Publicly-available specifications for file formats ensure that customers can access their data. You know, like if a company goes bust or gets bought out and a product line is discontinued. That sort of thing. OpenOffice.org and StarOffice provide specs like that. It's a good thing [tm]. Secondly, that the company's viewing software is MS-Windows only. There's not even a version for Macs! This means that people whose OS environment of choice is not MS-Windows but Solaris or Linux or MacOS must have an MS-Windows machine in order to do any sort of collaborative work using this tool. Thirdly, the drivers for the actual hardware and the online analysis software are, once more, MS-Windows only. Do you see a pattern here? I certainly do. Of course, companies that refuse to provide specs, platform-independant or multi- platform software will say to you "show me the market outside of the MS-Windows that really wants this product." Funnily enough, it's very difficult to come up with a business case which such a company will admit justifies their investment. What such companies fail to see is that even though the market might be quite small for MacOS, [insert-favourite linux distro name here] or Solaris, the developers who want to use company X's utility to assist with creating the next big thing (Serial-Attached SCSI anybody?) will go elsewhere for their needs. And that next big thing could be the product which keeps hundreds or thousands of people employed, could be something which changes the way we use IT or do business, or could even be what makes it possible for some rocket scientist to create a whole new way of travelling. So would I recommend that particular scsi bus analyzer to you? Not until there's at least a platform-independent tracefile viewer. Now you'll have to wait a minute or five while I reboot to MS-Windows for the scsi trace analysis.....
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I work at Oracle in the Solaris group. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and neither Oracle nor any other party necessarily agrees with them.

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