Is *Negging* Windows the Goal? [On Cross-Platform Equality]


You wrote a post years ago on the differences btwn Scrivener for Windows and for the Mac. But the “why” of it all seemed egregiously absent. Are the two platforms ever going to be mirror-image equal? Are there some things Windows will just never be able to do? What’s strange is that yours is not the only writing software that does this: [Write Brothers] Dramatica Story Expert has been promising a Windows equivalent for years (ie, they literally announced release dates, twice—now, the website simply directs Win users to an inferior old-school product, with the promise of cross-platformable software, still pending [their words]).

SO WHAT I’M WISHING FOR ON THIS LIST: is that if Scrivener for Windows is always going to remain the inferior platform (as compared to the Mac version), I’d like to know. Yes, there’s the option that I could possibly go elsewhere; but a more definitive answer could also sway me to finally go out and purchase a Mac (not likely; but maybe just for writing, who knows, probably not). But I’d rather pay three times as much for a Windows beta version that was constantly crashing—because then at least I’d know you were working on it, that it was a real and pressing priority—than to just sit here as I do now, wondering if I’m stuck with an inferior product, or worse, that you’re going to one day phase-out the Win version altogether.

All of this would be easier to swallow if when on your website or on this forum or scattered across YouTube I didn’t see countless videos and promos on just how great and superior the Mac version is. And again, if this is all designed to make me switch to the Mac version… then just say so. Because I’m quite dense and apparently slow on the uptake.

The Ether

Yes, the two platforms are intended to achieve feature parity. No, there are no plans to abandon or phase out the Windows version.

The Mac version has a five year head start. Many of the demos you see were created before the Windows version even existed.

If you check, you’ll find that the last Windows release was more or less concurrent with the last Mac release. You should expect the next release on both platforms to be near-simultaneous as well, as both platforms are currently testing private beta versions for compatibility with the upcoming iOS release.


As Katherine says, there are no plans to phase out the Windows version - far from it. Tiho and Lee are working on it constantly, and we are committed to Windows as a platform.

That the Windows version remains behind the Mac version in terms of features is a matter of simple maths, unfortunately. I’m the creator of Scrivener, and I created it on a Mac - and I started coding it back in 2005, eleven years ago. Lee came on board to code the Windows version in 2008, with coding really starting in earnest in 2009, releasing in 2011. So the Mac version had a good three or four year head start. Moreover, Scrivener is not just my job, but my passion (or obsession, I suppose) - I regularly work fourteen-hour days coding it. Lee has had help over the years, these days from Tiho, an incredibly talented programmer, but most of his help has not been full-time, and even if it were, I tend to work two full-time jobs’ worth in one day. :slight_smile: And you have to remember that we are a small company and so don’t have the resources to pay lots of programmers. So all the time Lee was working on the Windows version, I was forging ahead with the Mac version, adding more features, refining, creating a moving target for him, making it very difficult for even two programmers to catch up.

Not only that, but Windows is far more difficult to program for. On the Mac, Apple provides a very solid text system, and the basics of very good import and export. Lee and Tiho had to write a hell of a lot of code that Apple had provided me for free. Even basic stuff like viewing a PDF file involves a lot more work on Windows. This is probably why the independent Mac software scene is thriving - Apple makes it much easier to code for their platform. With Microsoft, it’s even difficult choosing what tools to use, because they tend to change every couple of years.

Lee is very passionate about Scrivener, though, and you have to bear in mind that Scrivener 1.x for Windows has had many major features added for free that Mac users had to pay for in a 2.x update. The Windows version is still missing some 2.x features, but many 2.x features were added along the way without us asking any update price (the next free update brings external folder sync, another 2.x feature). And the Windows version is still cheaper, of course.

Right now, we’re working on major updates for both the Mac and Windows versions. And the plan is still for feature-parity, although the next major Windows version will come some months after the next major Mac version. There’s no avoiding this given that features get coded and tested in the Mac version first, and that the Windows version still has extra catching up to do. We will be very clear in advance about the difference in timings to do our best to mitigate disappointment. The main thing to know is that Scriv for Window is in very active development, and right now, internally, it has all the major features of not only the current Mac version but of the next major Mac version - it’s just that we have a lot more legacy stuff and bugs left to fix and clean up in the Windows version so it will take longer to get there.

So please rest assured that we are very committed to the Windows version. Our Windows team has not been resting on its laurels - far from it. I do understand that Windows users can feel a little neglected when they see that they still don’t have all the features of the Mac version, but we are doing our absolute best as a tiny company. And I do think that Lee has done an amazing job in turning my dream writing app that I created on a Mac into a Windows app - if it wasn’t for Lee, Scrivener for Windows wouldn’t exist at all. There is a lot of cool stuff coming down the line, I promise, but I think that even as it stands it is still one of the best writing apps on Windows. But then, I’m biased. :slight_smile:

The short answer to your question is that the Windows version will almost certainly always lag behind the Mac version a little, simply because I design the app and code the Mac version. But we are working on reducing this lag as much as possible.

All the best,

One of the things that may help with this perception is a bit more transparency on the Windows side. Katherine does a fantastic job helping people, but one of the perks for the Mac side is that you pop into their threads and give great answers like the above – but since you’re not the Windows dev, you can’t give us that same level of response the Mac users get.

Add to that the fact that there’s a lot of good info spread out through the forums and new users frankly find it intimidating to search through as it’s not well-indexed. The support site is a little better, but it’s still harder to find good information there than it could be.

For example, the HiDPI issue. There’s a great KB article out there on the issue, but many users report it’s not helping enough. Some sort of list of “you’ve reported this issue and it will be addressed in 3.x” or “that’s a bugfix for 1.x” might help on the patience side. There are some other bugs that people are reporting that, as is the case a lot in the Windows world, usually seem to be user education or conflict with other software (such as AV software).

Having a single list of known issues with links to support threads/KBs/expected fix versions (notice NOT timelines, oh no!) – and the list itself has the critical “last updated” field so people see it’s a living document – could be an effective tool for Windows users to see the gap is being addressed.