Microsoft Surface Pro to Have Much Less Available User Storage Than Specified

Consumers who are planning to purchase a Surface Pro tablet when it debuts on February 8, 2013, are advised to think long and hard about the amount of internal storage they need. As it turns out, Surface Pro tablets are data hogs, leaving users with far less storage to play with than advertised due to the space required to install Windows and all the of the pre-loaded apps.

Those who purchase a 64GB Surface Pro ($899) will discover just 23GB of available space for their own files, while the 128GB version leaves users with 83GB of storage.

Less storage space than advertised isn't something that's unique to Microsoft by any means, but the reason it's drawing so much Internet attention is because Surface Pro gobbles up more storage than most of its competitors, up to 45GB right out of the box.

Surface Pro

Much ado about nothing?

"Surface Pro has a USB 3.0 port for connectivity with almost limitless storage options, including external hard drives and USB flash drives," Microsoft said in a statement. "Surface also comes preloaded with SkyDrive, allowing you to store up to 7GB of content in the cloud for free."

Surface Pro also comes with a MicroSDXC card slot for an additional 64GB of storage space, provided you pony up for a memory card. And yet another option is to create a backup bootable USB device and delete the recovery partition, Microsoft adds.
BurntChz one year ago

WOW 45GB?! Even with a recovery partition, that seems really bloated for a 'fresh' install.

JDiaz one year ago

It's not just the OS, MS is including other software with the install... Exact details aren't confirmed but it won't be just a bare OS install. Especially, since they intend to market the pro toward Enterprise/Corporate users.

Also, the SkyDrive feature has a off-line sync folder... So that means up to 7GB will be taken up on the Internal drive if you make full use of the SkyDrive service... Though this is disabled in the 64GB and smaller systems and you'll need to be online to access the files then, but MS may have set aside drive space specifically for this service.

While eliminating the recovery partition should free up at least 15GB...

Morely the IT Guy one year ago

The whole point of a tablet is to have a single unit with everything you need in it, in a small, lightweight, portable rectangle. Microsoft could have avoided a lot of this criticism by simply omitting the 64GB unit and releasing only the 128GB (or a 128GB unit and a 256GB one).

Windows *is* bloatware. Get over it. Or give it a miss and get an Android instead. My 16GB Lenovo tablet has 12GB internal storage free; that's about 75% free space, vs. about 33% for the 64GB Surface Pro.

JDiaz one year ago

A bit of an exaggeration, as a desktop OS will always be far larger than a mobile OS. Even the apps are much smaller for a Mobile OS!

Try installing say Ubuntu on your Android tablet and you'll find a lot less free space! Even OSX isn't that much lighter than Windows!

Desktop OS is more powerful and offers more than a mobile OS can, larger install is just part of the trade off... along with needing higher performance to run it, etc.

SSDs are also still pretty pricey and they'd have to significantly raise the price to offer more. Besides, which, capacities higher than 128GB aren't that easy to squeeze into the smaller than 11.6" tablets. We're talking mSATA or smaller options and not large and roomy 2.5" drives that laptops use!

Such options are emerging but they're at a price premium, much like getting a 512GB SSD for a laptop.

So we'll not likely see such higher capacities until the later part of this year, but that's one of the things to consider for the Surface Pro because MS will release a Haswell updated version, probably by the end of the year.

While also keep in mind the ARM and Clover Trail tablets are using the low end eMMC storage instead of high performance SSDs. So the pro tablets are offering far greater drive performance, and it's not just a matter of capacity.

So people considering what's best for them should not over-simplify it to just one feature like drive space. There are other trade-offs that are important to consider too!

Marco C one year ago

It's also not clear what apps Microsoft is including pre-installed on the Surface Pro, which can be easily uninstalled. I literally just finished setting up a new system for my wife the other day, and INCLUDING the pagefile and with hibernation enabled, the full Windows 8 Pro OS installation, along with Adobe Creative Suite 6, Office 2013, anti-virus, and a handful of other applications and utilities, 47GB of disk space is used. There's obviously more being installed than just the OS.

Now that MS is being raked over the coals for the disk space being consumed by desktop OS, a recovery partition, and whatever apps come pre-installed, I'm looking forward to the plethora of other articles that must be in the works holding Samsung, Lenovo, ASUS, and EVERY OTHER OEM that makes a Windows 8 Pro based mobile device to the same standard.

RWilliams one year ago

I am starting to think that Microsoft should have chosen 128GB as a baseline for Surface Pro than 64GB. It would have resulted in a more expensive device, sure, but who wants to spend nearly $1,000 on a PC and only have 23GB of storage space available to them? There are USB and memory card options, but those are hardly elegant - especially when you're on the go.

Microsoft really isn't at fault for this "problem" of hogged space, because it is what it is. There's not enough RAM in the device to support extracting of the restore ISO on-the-fly to cut down on space there - so the entire thing needs to be left extracted on the device itself (~8GB). Then there's the ~4GB swap file and ~4GB hibernation file (that is, if Microsoft is using hibernation in the traditional manner on this device). It all adds up.

Nonetheless, I'm interested in seeing how these sell. They are pretty attractive, though I personally have no need for a Windows tablet.

Marco C one year ago

@Rob - They're not going to sell well. MS has done a horrible job with their messaging and marketing the Surface Pro.

JDiaz one year ago

A bit early to state that I think, since they haven't actually started marketing to the general public yet... but some people may just wait for the Haswell update anyway...

sevags one year ago

I don't understand the big hoopla at all...... If I buy ANY PC/Mac/laptop/ultrabook etc there is always a decent sized chunk of storage space missing that is just the way it is! Even my iphone doesn't come with the 32gb specified. The Surface is a COMPUTER in tablet form it is NOT like an Ipad tablet, Windows has always taken up a sizeable chunk of HDD spac*+

e and this thing comes with Windows8, office, and more. And guess what? You can uninstall any bloatware you like including office if you don't use it. Also Many of us go ahead and do a fresh format and install for ourselves and others if a brand name PC with a preinstalled OS is purchased and I am sure many will still take that same route with the Surface I know I would as long as I can get office back on there...

3vi1 one year ago


>> a desktop OS will always be far larger than a mobile OS.


>> Try installing say Ubuntu on your Android tablet and you'll find a lot less free space!

Not particularly. The base install for some desktop Linux distros is actually smaller than what you get on Android devices. They're both software bundles sitting on the Linux kernel. Even if you were to install the full Ubuntu desktop distro, you're looking at using maybe 3 or 4GB extra space used over an Android install, at most (which is not a drastic difference on a 64GB drive). And, if you customize it with a minimalist desktop, you'll end up right back at the Android install size or less.

The packaging and pre-requisite systems on Linux has led to an environment where you get a lot of re-use of common libs - keeping size down.

JDiaz one year ago

"Not particularly. The base install for some desktop Linux distros is actually smaller than what you get on Android devices."

Hardly, what you call base install is missing a lot of components and features. Any desktop OS can be optimized to pretty small sizes, even Windows can be shrunk down to a couple hundred MB but you eliminate range of capabilities and flexibility of the OS in exchange.

Really, if it was so easy to keep size down then full Linux distros like Ubuntu would not be multiple GB in size!

Besides, the equivalent base install of Android goes well below 100MB! There's no real comparison between a mobile OS and a desktop OS!

HarleyLowSpeed one year ago

They don'y expect to sell many anyway. The RT already set the pace.

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