Windows 8 RT Scrivener?

How likely is a Scrivener for Win 8 RT (for ARM processors)? Is is as simple as a recompile of Scrivener for Windows, or would it take a major rewrite?

A lot of people will likely be interested as Windows 8 RT gets closer to an October release, and the newly announced Microsoft Surface tablet will have both Win8 RT and regular Win8 versions. Win8 RT will get better battery life and lower cost, which is probably a big benefit for for Scrivener users if it’s powerful enough to run the program.

Can you share any thoughts or info? (I won’t hold you to them, just hoping for some “I’ve been thinking along the lines of…” comments.)


I can’t speak for the developer team, but I suspect they’ve been too busy with the current Windows release to even think about the question.

A similar question came up when iOS was first released (the iPhone OS). In that case, the difference in capabilities was such that iOS required a completely new version (now in development). While ARM processors have gotten a lot more powerful in the interim, they’re still no match for a full-fledged desktop microprocessor. So my guess – again, noting that I don’t speak for the developers – would be no, the same software won’t work on both.


I see a few (potentially) important differences, with Windows versions and Apple OS versions…

  • The Windows version may simply require a recompile to work on RT - that is the case for some apps, but not sure if Scrivener would fit that category
  • Win8 RT will allow traditional mouse/keyboard input, which iOS does not allow - therefore a whole new approach is required or iOS
  • With the availability of mouse/keyboard support, another approach might be to take existing Win Scrivener and whittle down (shut off) certain features.
  • Now that an iOS version is on the way, we don’t know whether the dev team is more interested in keeping WinRT to look like the Win8 version, or maybe they will be more determined to keep the tablet versions (iOS and Win8RT) the similar.
  • The team may have decided to skip WinRT altogether, assuming that Windows tablets will soon run on intel mobile chips anyway.

Their current thoughts (which they are always free to change), would be very interesting to me.

But thanks for the reply. Ultimately, it may be just as you suggested. I was just hoping to get the inside scoop from someone one of the developers who had a little more of the details.

A quick RT release might be a long shot, but wow, wouldn’t that be neat even to know it might be a possibility? Or to know up front that such a thing has been considered, and it impossible due to A, B, C?

And as you say, they are probably heads down on the main Windows release, so it may be a while before we can learn more.

Whatever hints we do or don’t get, I’ll be eagerly awaiting. And will certainly be excited to buy the Scrivener for iPad release as well.

Do bear in mind that coding development for Scrivener is:

On Mac, Keith
On Windows, Lee with help from Tivo
On iOS, Jenny

All with a lot of input but no coding from Ioa, and from Jennifer et al.

Not a huge team to be thinking about versions for Android, let alone WindowsRT and Windows 8 hardware that isn’t out there yet.

I think this ranks with the person who asked how Scrivener would look on the new Retina MacBook Pro on the day that it was announced at WWDC.


Wow. I know everyone here is Scrivener fans, and fans of the dev team. I am too.

But I think the question is reasonable. This is not a complaint or attempt to pressure. And if no one from the team answers, I’m okay with that.

I didn’t take it as a complaint. It just seems to me that many people who come to Scrivener think it must be being coded by a whole team of people, and don’t realise just how small the Scrivener team actually is. I guess one of them might come in, but particularly given the size of the team developing Windows and trying to bring it up to speed with the Mac version–which has had five years longer in development–and at the same time working to come up with an official Linux version on the way by … I would think it’s a matter of “Don’t hold your breath.”

The same question arose as soon as the first iPad was announced. “Are you going to make an iPad version?” Without the hardware to see what the problems are going to be, and then a new team member to take it on …

That’s what I meant.


It’s certainly not an unreasonable question; it’s just that we don’t have an awful lot to say on the matter at the moment, because Lee has been so busy with the latest release, and his next priority will be getting everything Windows 8-ready too, of course.

When it comes to mobile devices, the important thing is getting a good groundwork laid. I’m the chief designer, and I have been working very hard with Jen and Ioa to ensure we have a good general mobile design in place. Jen is now working on implementing our design for the iPad and iPhone. Lee and his team won’t be able to start thinking about Windows/Android mobile versions until the iPad and iPhone versions are further down the line - they will act as his prototypes. Given our limited resources, it wouldn’t be wise for us to try to jump into all platforms at once, or to just hand Lee the design specs we’ve come up with and expect him and Tiho to use those in their current form as the basis for Windows/Android mobile versions. Those design specs are bound to change and evolve over the next few months as more of them get implemented and we test everything out. So it makes sense for us to concentrate on the iPad an iPhone versions to begin with and then for Lee to look at translating that to Android and Windows mobile platforms further down the line.

On the plus side, Lee does believe that a lot of Windows code will be able to be recompiled for mobile devices, much more so than the Mac code. But it is never just a case of recompiling when you are talking about porting from a desktop to a mobile device - you can’t expect a desktop interface to work equally well on a touch device; the interface requires a complete redesign to work well on a tablet or phone.

All the best,

Thank you for sharing your perspective on this. The early thoughts are much appreciated as a peek behind the veil.

I suspect that I’m not alone when I say that Scrivener even plays a role in some of my hardware purchase decisions, including the MacBook Air I have now. Should it? Maybe not, especially with the Windows version out now. But for it just “feels good” to use Scrivener, and I’ve never regretted using it.

Best wishes,

Hmm… Interesting thought. My initial reaction was to agree with you, but then I asked myself “why did I buy the car I did, and not the other one that everyone told me to buy?” Preference is a valid decision making rationale. If it wan’t there wouldn’t be multiple flavors of ice cream. That said, I use scriv on both windows and mac, but will always prefer the Mac version, not due to the feature differences, but to the OS differences (OSX is just more comfortable to me). Which means that I will continue to pay for Apple hardware even though there would appear, to most people, not real reason to pay the “extra money” to get a Mac.

Which is my long winded way of saying “you have found yet another way Scrivener makes life easier; Hardware decision making simplified.”

Thanks for asking – I’ve been wondering the same thing. I’m thinking about getting a Windows 8 ultrabook or tablet or something super portable when the OS comes out. The Surface looks pretty cool. My understanding is the WIndows 8 Pro version of Surface will support regular software that works on any Windows 8 computer, so it probably will support Scrivener. The RT version is definitely less clear. Besides the possible hardware issues, I understand that you can only install apps on the RT version from the Microsoft store. So the Scrivener team would additionally have to make an agreement with Microsoft to get the app up there. Not sure how hard that will be at this point.

I have been looking into this myself for Aeon Timeline, and I actually wrote a blog post specifically about this issue, which has attracted several comments from more seasoned Windows developers who have more or less confirmed my concerns.

The short answer is that WinRT/Metro is a completely different development environment, much the same as Mac versus iPad. While I won’t pre-empt an answer from the Windows Scrivener guys on whether they will take this route, it would at this stage require a complete rewrite to support Metro style apps natively.

In fact, apps written for WinRT/Metro will not be able to be run in earlier Windows versions at all, and apps compiled for Intel won’t run on ARM*, so Microsoft has made a pretty muddy landscape at the moment.

  • There is a chance that the existing Scrivener source could be compiled to run on ARM processors as a standard desktop app, it just won’t be Metro-style.

If Scrivener were to appear as a Metro-style tablet app, it would need to be a 4th incarnation to go alongside the Mac, Windows and upcoming iOS version.

See my blog post here for a more developer-oriented discussion (and a lot of whinging from me): … evelopers/