Passing on Scrivener for now

I fell in love with Scrivener years ago. Since then I’ve changed jobs and now spend most of my computing time on a windows machine. I was hoping to use Scrivener to write some technical documents, but was really saddened by the state of the Windows version of the product. Until it is as full featured and pleasant to look at as the mac version, I think I have to pass.

Out of curiosity, have you tried the current beta?

It’s aesthetically and functionally much closer to the Mac version, most of the bugs reported at this point are fairly minor, and trying it out should give you some insight into the direction Windows Scrivener is heading towards. You may still feel it’s not for you, even with all the changes, but it might be worth taking a look anyway, just to feel it out.

Your writing is your writing. Do whatever makes you most productive.

I’m always confused by this line of thinking, though. Unless you’re planning to buy a Mac, what difference does it make that Win Scrivener is different from Mac Scrivener? As a Windows user, your choice is between Scrivener and other applications that work on PCs.


I live in both worlds, with a Mac at home and a Windows PC at work. I’ve found Scrivener to be excellent as a sort of “work notebook” at work (collecting my work notes, outlines for documents I need to write, PDFs of reference material, etc.), so I do want it on both platforms. Looking / working the same on both when you use both is obviously much nicer.

That said, I don’t entirely get some of the gripes from the Windows side either. There are TONS of excellent Mac apps from small indy developers that will NEVER come to Windows, even though I’d love to have them there. Bear, Things, OmniOutliner, OmniFocus, and Ulysses all come to mind. Day One is another favorite that is now, very slowly, becoming cross-platform, but they started with a (beta) web version and Android. No idea when/if Windows is on their roadmap. And I think they’ve been around since 2011 or so. L&L is doing something out-of-the-ordinary by offering these options at their size at all.

So my point there is, I’m actually quite grateful that a small company like L&L decided to make a Windows version at all! Feels weird to then yell and scream that it isn’t coming along fast enough.

All THAT said, I’ve been happily using the Windows 3 Beta now for a few months (starting I think with beta 10?) and it is GREAT. I haven’t hit any showstopper bugs for my use cases and it is really nice to be in an environment so similar to the mac side. So I’d really echo what Collider said above – even if you aren’t ready to go full on beta with your production work, give it a try to see where things are going before you give Scrivener a pass.

Yuup! The Windows version is functional, and for many, still lightyears ahead of the Windows competition! I’ll concede that it isn’t very pretty, but comparing it to the Mac version seems pointless. Compare it, instead to the other Windows titles that are out there. I think it still competes very well. If you just can’t get past the older UI, there ARE quite good alternatives, but none have the exact same set of features.

That is why competition is so good for the consumer, We get choices!

Perhaps my experience will make this line of thinking (complaining that Windows development is so far behind Mac development) clearer.

I discovered Scrivener and loved it, after having struggled with writing my first book trying to use Word’s buggy “master documents” feature. I fell in love with the ability to structure, outline, subdivide, reorganize, and write nonlinearly, and so I bought it. I use Scrivener (Win 1.9.9) and appreciate what it is more than I can say.

But I came to the point where I wanted to use something akin to Word’s “track changes” feature. It’s the only thing I miss from Word. Poking around in the software doesn’t yield anything, so I Google, and hey! Scrivener offers the ability to “Compare Snapshots.” That’s exactly what I want! So I start messing around and find out that, no, sorry, that’s only on the Mac version of the program.

And then I find out that Mac users have had this feature for years, but Windows users can’t get it until the entire Windows version is brought up to Mac 3.x. I don’t care about all the new eye candy or other features; I just want to compare snapshots, but I can’t get that until the new version comes out.

Now, from a development standpoint,I totally get it: there’s no point in tinkering with an old Windows codebase when the entire thing is going to need to be overhauled anyway. But we’re told “sometime in 2018” (this is 2017 when I’m finding all this out). So I wait. And I wait. Not being adventuresome, I don’t download the beta, which in retrospect maybe I should have done. But I’m told that there are compile problems. So I wait.

Here’s the thing. I’m not waiting for Ulysses. It’s a Mac program, only being developed for Macs. No problem. I respect that. But when a program is being marketed to two platforms under the same name, you expect more or less the same features. L&L is charging the same amount for both programs. One would expect them to be equivalent.

But this is the marketplace. I get it: I agreed to the price and I got what I paid for. Strictly speaking, I don’t have the right to expect anything else. But now that I’ve been tantalized by the promise that “Scrivener” does exactly the thing I want it to do, it would be really, really nice if the “Scrivener” that I own would do it, too.

If L&L is going to market substantially different products, I suggest that they be honest and change the name of the Windows version of Scrivener to something else. Otherwise, they are basically capitalizing on the name of an up-to-date program to sell a severely out-of-date one.

Your experience is your experience, and thank you for sharing it. But then you go and ruin your well-written and reasoned post with this point, which just seems a bit silly.

Prior to v3, the Mac & Windows versions were more or less the same in features and philosophy, except for a few specific features Mac had that Win didn’t. And one of those was unfortunately something important to you. Now that Mac has gone to v3 and the feature gap has spread, you could in theory make a case for your point, except for fact that L&L was and is undertaking a highly visible, highly focused effort to catch Windows up. And this effort is highly successful, as anyone who has bothered to download the Windows beta or merely had a look at the beta announcements page could clearly see for themselves.

So, “being honest”, exactly when in that timeline would it have made sense to change the product name?

Except that the Windows version has both a free public beta and a 30-day free trial of the release version. There’s no reason for anyone to not know what they’re getting before they buy.


Yes, I acknowledged that in the paragraph just prior to the one you quoted. Obviously I was engaged in a bit of hyperbole. (JIMRAC, that should answer your question. If a literal answer were insisted upon, it would be 20 November 2017.)

I’m not complaining about what I bought and paid for. I love what I bought and paid for. I’m actually agitating for the opportunity to pay more money in order to get an updated version of it.

But I’ve seen the rhetoric go from “We’re going to get the two releases back in sync by releasing 3.0 in Mac and Windows together!” to “We didn’t want to artificially hold back the release of the Mac version, but the Windows version is coming soon!” to “Well, sometime this year…” to “What difference does it make that Win Scrivener is different from Mac Scrivener?”

That’s what pulled the trigger and made me write what I wrote.

I’m sorry, but I think that’s unfair. L&L have always been upfront about the development challenges their small but dedicated team face. The Win V3 beta has been available for some time now and as a cross platform user, I find the two currently available as close as one could expect given the very different operating systems and development timelines. Would the complainers prefer L&L release a half-finished product just to stop the complaining. (Then imagine how much more complaining there would be) Instead of taking a shot at L&L, perhaps try out the very stable beta and see tha amazing amount of work they have put in to get where they are with the Win V3 beta.

As a developer of a number of business applications for in house use over the years I have an understanding of the challenges faced by Keith and his team and a deep appreciation of their commitment to releasing software when it is ready and not a moment earlier, regardless of demands and complaints.

Quite frankly, until V3 is ready for full release, it really doesn’t matter about the differences. Both Mac and Win versions available today are excellent applications that do the task they set out to do. It’s just when V3 Win is realeased it will be an even more excellent application. In the meantime, write with what’s available, or don’t.

On the other hand, go buy a used Mac and get V3 for Mac. The used Mac will likely outlast a new Win machine . :laughing:

Your quotes aren’t really quotes, are they? They are interpretations of what L&L have actually said in the past. KB seldom uses exclamation marks in his posts…

26 JUL 2017
“…, for now all we can say is that Scrivener 3 for Windows will be released when it’s ready, most likely some time in 2018.”

Ambitions and goals aren’t the same thing as promises. The only promise I’ve seen so far is that those who bought a Win Scrivener license from 20th November 2017 and onwards will get a free upgrade to Win Scrivener 3 when it arrives.

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Actually, paying the same amount for less functionality is a very common experience for Mac users. That’s why many of us prefer Mac-first or Mac-only tools.


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My point exactly! Those of us who prefer Windows 10 over. . . Mac anything, need to either wait for L&L’s release of Scrivener 3 for Windows or move on to something else. There are some very good products out there for Windows (and a few dogs LOL)!

The truth is, aside from being a bit old fashioned in appearance, the feature set for Scrivener STILL competes fairly well against the Windows competition. True, it’s not as strong as it was, but it is still viable. Even though I bought Scrivener late last year, I STILL haven’t decided whether or not Scrivener will be my daily ‘go to’ tool. I have a different, Windows-only tool that I like very much which has a slightly different feature set. At this point, I will wait until the release of “Scriv 3” for a final decision, I guess. But it is still a neck and neck competition. That doesn’t mean I will ‘get rid’ of either, It just means I will likely decide on which to use depending on the project.

But jeez, people, be proactive instead of whining! It’s just software!

You mentioned Android, and there is no Scrivener version for Android, so it wasn’t at all clear that you were only talking about Scrivener.


Well, you could’ve read the info on the web page with info on the Windows version. How could you miss this?
On the Mac page it says:
“Scrivener 3 is the best version of Scrivener we’ve ever produced, and it’s available for macOS now.”

On the Windows page it says:
“We’re currently hard at work on Scrivener 3 for Windows (yes, we’re skipping a number!). If you buy now, you’ll get a free update to Scrivener 3 when it’s available.”

How could you interpret this as “both versions are identical although they are adapted to different operating systems”?

The most recent edition of Writing a Novel with Scrivener was released in 2011. It does not accurately reflect the state of either version of Scrivener.

If you would like to request a refund, you can do so here: