There’s good news and bad news for folks planning to pick up a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet next month. The good news is that the tablet will have a full recovery partition built-in, which means you can always restore the computer to its factory default settings.

The bad news is that the operating system, default apps, and recovery partition take up a lot of space — so if you buy a model with a 64GB solid state disk, you’ll only have 23GB of free space out of the box. Customers who pay extra for a 128GB model will have 83GB of usable space.

Microsoft Surface Pro

Users will be able to free up some of that space by creating a bootable USB flash drive with the recovery files so that they can delete the recovery partition.

You can also add space to the Surface Tablet by plugging in an SD card or USB flash drive.

But if you’ve grown used to iOS and Android tablets, where a 16GB model ships with something close to 16GB of space for apps, media, and data, the amount of space reserved for system software on Microsoft’s upcoming tablets might seem a bit shocking.

Then again, you can always rely on SkyDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, or other cloud storage services for your files. That’s especially useful if you’re planning to use a Surface as a secondary computer rather than a primary PC, since it makes it easier to access your files across multiple devices.

The Surface Pro goes on sale February 9th for $899 and up.

via SoftPedia and The Verge

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39 replies on “64GB Microsoft Surface Pro tablet will ship with just 23GB usable space, 128GB model has 83GB”

  1. I tried to plug a printer into an ipad, but was unable to find the usb for this. I tried to plug a scanner into my android phone, and again couldn’t find the port to allow this. Ipod ran out of storage space, looked for an usb or sd card slot, no go.

  2. Okay, so can someone review for me the advantages of buying into this “New” Windows mess again?
    Why don’t they simply equip them with larger storage if the OS is so big? -duh?

    1. The same reason for any SSD equipped device: price. SSDs still cost a lot.

  3. They want us to rent Office, well they can rent their (presumably overcharged-for) storage space back off us, which is only needed in the first place because Windows is and always has been such an unreliable crock that periodic reinstallation is a fact of life, with mediocrity redefined as the norm in Microsoft’s world vision (otherwise we’d never be hoodwinked into upgrading).

    1. Thing with cloud services is all the maintenance is handled by the company and not the users!

      So no need to re-install, upgrade, etc… Just a usage subscription fee that you can terminate or re-start at any time, unless you lock yourself into a contract period, and thus only really pay for what you use instead of everything usually involved.

      This is pretty much true of all cloud services, whether you pay directly or indirectly (ads, etc) and with lots of companies doing more and more corroborations and team projects, its not a bad business model at all…

      Aside from the usual concerns for relying on cloud computing…

  4. When your desktop PC’s OS takes 5% of advertised space, that’s expected.
    When your smartphone’s OS uses 10% of advertised space, that’s reasonable.
    When your Surface RT steals 64% of advertised space, that’s fraudulent advertising.

    1. Desktop PC’s typically use much higher capacity hard drives, SSDs are only really starting to provide adequate capacities for what people need these days.

      So that 5% is compared to desktop systems that offer TBs of capacity vs SSDs that only offer up GBs of capacity, but switch a desktop to a similar small capacity SSD and it’ll be using up a lot more than 5%…

      Mobile devices use small and easy to run mobile software. Android and iOS are both mobile OS and take up a fraction of the space a full desktop OS OS would.

      Even many desktop GNU/Linux distros take up far more space than either Android or iOS.

      Neither Android or iOS have to support the massive driver database that Windows does that allows the easy use of hundreds millions of hardware and peripherals. Most mobile devices don’t even offer full USB ports!

      Even the most powerful ARM processors have barely exceeded the performance range of Intel ATOMs, which are on the bottom of the PC performance scale! So even if the software was ported they couldn’t run the more powerful desktop programs.

      So sure, these devices won’t offer much in the way of free space but the comparison to light weight mobile devices is erroneous or at least very distorted at best.

      1. Uhh, sorry to piss on your parade, but if it comes equipped with a pre-installed calculator (which would probably swallow up another 3-4 Gb), you might like to use it to see how foolish your statement that ” … Windows allows the easy use of hundreds of millions of hardware [sic] and peripherals” sounds.

        Assuming there were a MILLION peripheral device makers in the world (like HP, Epson, Seagate, Plantronics etc, etc.) and each one had a HUNDRED different products in their catalog, then you’d be right, but what you’re saying here is logically just pure nonsense. I get tired of MS fanboys repeating the same tired old lines over and over again. Please try to think a little more carefully about your ‘facts’ before posting them.

        1. Suggesting a mere calculator app would use up a whopping 3-4GB pretty much shows how biased you are and no, I’m no fanboy but rather a realist who dislikes misinformation and that goes for whatever that misinformation is about!

          Windows in fact support hundreds of millions of hardware, this ranges from peripherals to individual components like video cards. MS even has posted a official compatibility site for looking up what will work with Windows.

          Really, the range of configurations used by PC’s supported by Windows is very large! Especially, because MS supports more legacy than pretty much any other option and often gets the latest new drivers before most.

          Apple, with OSX, is MS closest competitor but they cut off support past a certain point for older hardware and from the beginning only support the number of hardware that they test and approve of themselves!

          Just look up how hard it is to create a hackintosh to know that’s a pretty limited range of support compared to Windows, and that’s with Apple using pretty much the same type of parts these days… Never mind when they used more proprietary hardware.

          While Linux has long had the problem of little to no support from hardware makers that don’t provide open source drivers and it can take years for open source alternatives to be developed. Often, so called support is actually limited to generic drivers!

          Really, Linus Torvalds insulted Nvidia last year because of the lack of support even though Nvidia officially supports Linux. It took years for even Nvidia’s Optimus feature to be supported in their released Linux drivers.

          So even from companies that do support Linux it can take months to years after they already released Windows and OSX drivers before they provide drivers for Linux.

          While often linux is highly customized, eliminating things not needed for a specific user base… Thus why Linux distros can range from just hundreds of MB to pretty large multiple GB installations, depending on what’s kept or removed.

          Android, though also based on Linux kernel, is even more stripped down. Unlike desktop Linux there’s no GNU included with Android and much of the code is simplified. So putting a desktop Linux on a Android device will often result in far less free space.

          Ubuntu, as stated elsewhere, actually requires about 5GB of install space for example… Even its image file is larger than a whole running Android install.

          Thing to remember then about Windows is it is a OS for the masses and that means keeping things in it that support as wide a range of users as possible.

          Not all the code is necessarily as lean as it could be but most of the so called bloat isn’t really but rather just how much they have to support.

          The only version of Windows that reneges on that range of support is
          Windows RT, which like other mobile OS has been stripped down and
          supports a significantly smaller range of hardware and software options.

          But we’re talking about the Pro tablets running full Windows 8 Pro!

          So, like it or not those are the facts and you should do more research before assuming they’re not!

        2. Yeah, i’m with CyberGusa on this one, Jonathan. A windows 8 Pro tablet is as fully featured as a PC (in terms of connectability with tens of thousands of unique devices, which will equate to millions due to the sheer number of companies that make similar devices…USB sticks for example) and that’s because it runs a FULL Operating system, not a stripped-down consumption O.S. This is not going to be to everyone’s liking, so those who just want something to watch videos on, browse the internet and listen to music, feel free to stick with your iDevice. For those who may want to do more, especially in education and enterprise, this is an excellent best-fit device. Not quite sure why you decided to lead with “Calculator…probably swallow up another 3-4GB) if your intention was to make a reasonable point based on “facts” (the ones we’re supposed to think more carefully about) as that’s childish, although sadly typical of your kind. You get tired of MS Fanboys; we get tired of your inane drivel. I’m happy to admit to preferring MS to Apple, for one old reason that hasn’t changed in 20 years and remains true to this day: ‘If you want to do basic stuff on something that looks pretty, buy Apple – If you want to do something properly, buy a Windows-based PC”. The iPad will continue to sell well to people who have lots of money and don’t want to do anything other than “consume”, which is fine. Some people will want to “do” things though, and iPads/Android tablets are not the devices to do it on as they are not computers; Win 8 Tablets are. Fact.

    Ultrabooks don’t come with the exact storage listed. 128GB version samsung 9 has 90GB free!!! What?!?! How come?!?! I thought all that full OS and other junk took up zero space?

    This is a full laptop people. Anyway scare people off that way there is no chance I’ll be left with an out of stock notice when I go to buy!

    1. Oh, trust me. The chances of seeing an “out of stock” notice are less than nil, so there’ll be MORE than enough of ’em sitting on the shelf pleading for someone – anyone – to take one home.

      And a ‘full laptop’ that can’t be used on your lap? Great! Just what the world was clamouring for …

      1. Actually, you can use it on your lap… just like you can other tablets…

        The MS Surface is primarily a tablet in design but unlike a laptop with TN screen a IPS screen means far greater viewing angles. So you aren’t limited to needing it directly facing you.

        The attachable keyboard can also be flipped underneath to act as a platform for the kickstand to prop it up on your lap, keyboard auto de-activates when flipped back. So it’s only when you need to use the keyboard that it becomes a balancing act but you aren’t likely to do much typing on the go with the keyboard.

        Besides, most people using laptops don’t really keep them on their laps because they tend to get too hot and the same typical solution of using a cooling pad or similar will also work for the Surface Pro…

        Also, it’s actually easier to type on the screen when being mobile… Really try typing on a laptop in a moving car on a less than perfectly even street/road… You’ll be more accurate with a touch screen than a keyboard.

        While again the point of a tablet is improved usage while being mobile!

        If you’re going to be stationary then a laptop may be better for you. Otherwise you can just use say a USB 3.0 docking station and setup a desktop arrangement for the tablet when you need to do work and just disconnect and go with the tablet when you need to be mobile.

        Unlike the Asus Vivo Tab, Acer Iconia, etc that provide true Hybrids. The MS solution is more tablet than Hybrid and that should be kept in mind but that doesn’t mean the increased performance and capabilities it can provide aren’t still desire-able.

  6. Didn’t someone sue MS because the Surface RT didn’t have the “advertised” storage space?

  7. Glad you can make a recovery disc/USB. This is a PC so 64 GB is of course not enough. It’s not in the same category as an Android, iOS and Windows RT (definitely uses up too much space for it’s category) tablet.

  8. i think this combined with the price, and then distribution channels will severely hinder sales.

  9. This sounds pretty ridiculous. You would loose more than 50% of your storage.

    How much space Android takes up? Some 1-3 GB?

    1. Apples to oranges, Android and iOS are both only mobile OS and as such don’t need to support what a desktop OS can support.

      Mobile apps are also much smaller and easier to run than desktop apps, some of which can never be run with the very limited performance presently offered by present mobile device hardware that otherwise easily run Android or iOS.

      Mind that these Windows systems are also including recovery partition, drive space reserved for things like Skydrive sync for off-line access of that up to 7GB free capacity that would otherwise only be accessible online, software suites like MS Office take up far more space than any mobile app, driver database to support hundreds of millions of devices, etc.

      Performance is also different, since a Core i5 is multiple times more powerful than any ARM offering, DDR3 SO-DIMM and laptop type SSDs offer much more performance than LP-DDR2 RAM and eMMC (performance is closer to HDD than SSD) storage, etc.

      The only thing is the next phase of increased SSD capacities are still months away, but by the end of the year we should see 256GB capacities offered instead of 128GB. So products coming out now are just limited to less ideal capacities but the situation does improve over time.

      1. So, essentially, Microsoft presents the user with a potential plethora of desktop apps nobody asked for on a tablet, balanced by half the SSD and battery life, for double the price. A reasonable trade-off, indeed.

        1. No, essentially MS is providing what people have been asking for in pretty much over a decade but only recently has it become practical.

          The SSD is the same as it would be for a laptop that only provided a SSD and no secondary drive.

          The price is higher but so is a laptop versus a desktop. Increased mobility doesn’t come free!

          Trades off go either way, a laptop can’t be used as easily while mobile, is heavier, harder to lug around, and takes up more space.

          Things like IPS screens are not yet the norm for laptops and TN screens don’t have that good viewing angles, color accuracy, etc.

          Cheaper laptops also tend to use cheaper parts, like hard drives instead of SSDs, plastic instead of metal, etc.

          You give up something with any solution! And no, the price is not double, these tablets only cost up to $200 more than the equivalent laptop would cost.

          Ultrabooks are hardly cheap yet and only recently dipped to more reasonable price ranges and regular laptops don’t use premium parts like SSDs, etc.

          Fact is lots of people have been looking for full PC tablets for a very long time. They just didn’t have any good options till now and have had to settle for far less!

          So just because you don’t find them appealing has nothing to do with whether there’s a market for them or not. There’s lots of options because there are lots of people with different needs and wants!

          1. I think I’ll take the trade offs that other mobile OSs offer as opposed to these trade offs.

          2. And that’s your choice, all options have their compromises and reasons why other people wouldn’t like those choices but that’s why there are so many choices available!

          3. Sorry but hybrids, like the ones provided by Asus, can be used in your lap.

            The MS Surface isn’t really a hybrid, it just has a attachable keyboard but that doesn’t convert it into a laptop like a Hybrid setup would!

            So you use it like you would other tablets, but limitations aren’t just physical. People have long wanted to be able to do more with their mobile devices.

            The whole UMPC market was created specifically for such users. It was just never practical back then, providing too little performance, and costing way too much.

            However, the desire for such capabilities never went away… It was just more practical to settle for less until technology improved.

            Really, it only shows a lock of understanding and imaginations to suggest no one ever wanted a more powerful mobile computer!

            Sure, there are instances where a laptop would be preferable but there are also instances where a laptop would not be preferable!

            The tablet form factor is better for mobile usage, you can stand and walk while still using a tablet. While simply having docks allows the same device to be used in other capacities.

            Having people use the same device for everything is the eventual ideal. Someone can use a tablet on the go but then dock it and use it as a regular PC.

            Right now, MS isn’t pushing for the dock options but the capacity is there with the USB 3.0 port, which can easily make use of a USB 3.0 docking station. So just plug it in and instead of having a regular desktop you can just use your tablet docked.

            Really, there are multiple examples of how a tablet with a performance of a proper PC can be very useful and the fact is none of these possibilities are new concepts!

            Just because you’re used to having limited options does not mean people have always wanted to settle for less!

            Even with Android and iOS they are steadily pushing for more and more capabilities.

            Really, neither Android or iOS need much performance to work well but they keep on pushing the performance because people always want more!

            Hybrids like the Asus Transformer series are just one of many examples of the market responding the desire to be able to do more with mobile devices.

            So, while this may not appeal to you, make no mistake that this is the trend and there is a market for it!

          4. The appeal is actually for having something that can provide at least most of the functionality and capabilities of a full PC and not be limited to just what a mobile device is typically capable of providing.

            Besides, even if you don’t like Windows it won’t be much longer before it’ll be fairly easy to install another OS like any number of desktop Linux distros.

      2. Your a clown. Windows 8 is garbage, and NO ONE will buy this surface tab. You can’t even install anything other than stuff through microsofts store. I’m sorry but tegra 3 is a fully functional SOC and easily meets benchmarks hit by PC’s. Only idiots and fan boys will buy the surface tab,.

        1. Being ignorant is no excuse for being rude!

          For your information, you’re not limited to the MS App Store for full Windows 8! Only Windows RT limits you to the App store but even then they’ve already developed a jailbreak for RT and started work on porting desktop apps.

          And no, Tegra 3 does not easily meet benchmarks hit by PC’s, unless you mean PC’s that are several years old now!

          In terms of CPU performance the Tegra 3 is weaker than even a ATOM and that’s on the bottom of the modern PC performance scale!

          A i-Core anything would be multiple times more powerful at minimum!

    2. True, but last time I checked, Adroid and iOS do not do the same thing as Win8 on an ultra book that happens to be tablet also. Jeez. first go check what is left with OSx on macbook air for an advertised 64GB or 128GB macbook air 11″ then your comparison will be fair.

        1. Windows 3.1 came on about half a dozen 1.44MB floppy disks, media cost probably about a dollar. Hand on heart, how much has really improved with Windows since then? The bulky stuff is things like Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer, for which there are far superior and lighter-weight alternatives.

          1. Since Windows 3.1 a lot has changed and improved. Really, it’s like comparing OS7 to OSX for Apple.

            You may not like some of the default included software but the OS has changed a lot over the years and no OS is defined by just the included software but the entire ecosystem!

          2. Arguably true, but to compare with an alternative bang up to date system with broadly similar functionality… A Ubuntu re-install image fits on to a 1 or 2GB USB stick, and that’s including a full-blown office suite. That really is now throw-away extra storage costs.

            I use Windows and Ubuntu, choosing the right tool for the right job. I’d happily shift 100% to Ubuntu, but need to continue supporting the standards-noncompliant browsers most of my clients insist on using.

          3. Similar doesn’t equate to offering the same things… You can’t get everything on a Linux distro that you can on Windows…

            While you can get most of the basic stuff, but things like Adobe Photoshop and Pro level Audio and Video editing software is pretty much non-existent on Linux.

            Sure, you can use WINE, etc but that’s just like using emulators in any OS… It’s not native and requires work around solutions that aren’t optimal and don’t always work.

            You can get most of them on OSX, but that OS is nearly the size of Windows anyway!

            This is not to say desktop Linux doesn’t offer quite a bit, but there’s a reason why it is used by less than 5% of all PC users while Windows is used by over 85%… Even OSX never really broke 10%… and the reasons are not just because of MS business practices but because of the ecosystem they have for it!

            Sure, Linux rules the server market but what works for servers isn’t the same as what works for most regular users.

            Besides, Ubuntu recommended minimum installation space is 5GB… Image sizes are deceptive as even Windows 8 Pro ISO is only about 2GB.

            While keep in mind that part of MS success is how they have other software and established standards that help promote the use of Windows, which further adds to the ecosystem point.

            Part of the so called bloat is actually a large database of drivers that allows Windows to support hundreds of millions of devices and peripherals… Windows is run on more systems and supports more hardware than pretty much any other OS… So supporting it all comes at a cost.

            I agree on the right tool for the job sentiment though. There are cases where Linux is the better tool, but it depends on the user and what their needs are as to whether that’s the case or not.

          4. “You can get most of them on OSX, but that OS is nearly the size of Windows anyway!”

            No it isn’t! Where did you get that strange idea? OSX 10.7 only takes between 5-6 Gb, compared to the 41Gb for the 64Gb model described above. Maybe mathematical theory varies from country to country, but in Australia (where I’m from) 41Gb > 6Gb. Oh well, never let the truth spoil a good story, eh?

            Interesting historical footnote: PhotoShop and nearly every other ‘high-end’ professional application was available on Mac years before they were available on Windows (you make it sound like you can “sort of” get by on Mac if you really must). Just saying …

          5. The 41GB described above is not just for the OS install but all the extra software and extra partitions!

            15GB for example is just the recovery partition, another 7GB could just be set aside for the SkyDrive service because it has a off-line sync folder, while it may not come with full office the Pro is being marketed to Enterprise/Corporate users and that likely means at least a trial version of Office is installed, along with other software MS wants to push.

            Windows 8 OS actually only requires about 16GB for 32bit install and 20GB for 64GB.

            So actual install is much smaller as that is just the capacity recommended to make sure there is space for updates, minimum recovery options, and at least a few other program installs. Just like Apple recommends a minimum of 8GB for installing OSX.

            OSX would actually require more but Apple offsets quite a bit these days to the cloud. You can even install an update online instead of ordering it on a physical medium.

            Windows 8 is actually a bit lighter than Windows 7, which itself can be squeezed onto a 4GB SSD with a little vliting and eliminating the recovery options. Even the recovery partition doesn’t actually need 15GB but sets aside space to leave room for users to add additional image backups and the default install requirements factor in at least a minimum recovery partition.

            So eliminating the recovery options really frees up a lot of space.

            While Modern UI apps are a lot like Android and iOS apps and take up far less space than traditional desktop programs, which is why they can get away with less capacity for the Windows RT models because aside from media most of the apps will be Modern UI only. If not for the inclusion of Office in RT by default it would have a couple more GB free space than it does.

            Features like the Skydrive sync folder aren’t even enabled for the 64GB or smaller models.

            So a lot of that space is being taken up by stuff they’ve added because you can do more with the more powerful system.

          6. The more I read your post, the more I hope I never meet you in real life. Who uses windows PC’s for video editing, or multimedia creation? NO ONE, they use apple. Just admit that the MS bloatware on this new tablet is pointless. You must be a ms project manager or something because you are arguing nonsense. This tablet would be great……at 200$ 300$ for the 128g model, but MS is offering this thing at a premium, and it doesn’t offer premium specs. The only company that can charge a premium for their tech products are apple and samsung, and thats because they are the best of the best specs wise. Goto your MS focus group with that on your mind.

          7. You can pretend whatever you want but I got nothing to do with MS and I’m definitely no fanboy of pretty much anything.

            Facts are facts whether you like them or not, plenty of people use PC’s for video editing and media creation, among many other usages. You really can’t use anything else but a PC as all that requires significant performance!

            Typical mobile devices are only good for youtubing and other very basic stuff.

            Mobile OS and software are by design limited and made to be run on devices with limited performance.

            When Apple gets around to providing a version of OSX for mobile usage then you can opt for that but right now the only mainstream desktop OS being pushed to mobile usage is Windows.

            Some desktop Linux distros are also on their way also but will take longer and don’t yet provide the same range of options.

        2. They did, Windows 8 is smaller than Windows 7… However, there are other things that take up space besides the OS.

          The SkyDrive service for example has off-line sync folder enabled for the Pro models. So whatever you store online also gets stored on the internal drive… Along with other examples of what’s taking up space.

          While some things are hard to trim, like the massive driver database Windows supports. Apple’s OSX in comparison never has to support that large of a database because they only support a limited number of approved hardware, even trimming off older hardware past a certain point.

          Some of these things are trimmed out for Windows RT, but it’s also why RT is more crippled than the full Windows 8 install… Like you can’t use external webcams or scanners for example with RT.

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