Introducing the 64GB 23GB Surface Pro

If Microsoft designed the world's greatest toaster, it would put full-bore Windows on it and call it the Oxidizing Thermodynamic Energy Transfer Platform for Bread Pro. CNET's Luke Westaway:

Only a third of the available storage on Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet will be available to customers, with hefty software clogging up the upcoming tablet's hard drive. The 64GB model will in fact contain just 23GB of useful space, CNET reports. ... Why do you get so much less space? It seems that Microsoft's built-in software is hogging gigabytes, while a recovery partition is also blamed for taking up hard drive capacity.

40GB! iOS and Android are what, 1GB? It's as if Microsoft just can't see a particular color in the spectrum of business, and the thing killing it is that color.


  1. I still want one, but what I want to know is how much of the glut is the serious software and how much is bloatware.

      1. No bloatware other than a full install of Windows & a recovery partition onto what’s supposed to be a tablet, anyway…

  2. While it IS a lot of bloat… comparing the iOS/Android recovery partition size requirements to a full Windows OS installation (with Office) is apples to Oranges.

    Comparing a MacBook Air recovery partition (what ever that might be) to the Microsoft Surface Pro would be more equivalent.

    1. Apple uses a cloud based recovery system, the actual recovery partition is quite small since it downloads all the OS install files off the net. Takes a while but makes sense on a device with small storage. IOS devices work a similar way.

      1. Although that’s an option, the default recovery partition (for OS X, not iOS) does actually contain most of the OS – as evidenced by the fact that you can burn it to a DVD and get a fairly usable OS install disk. There are cloud-based bits, and it does some funny online authentication stuff, but the bulk of the OS really is on that recovery partition.
        Edit: However, having actually poked about the partition a bit, it’s not quite as much as I thought; the OS, yes, the bundled apps, not so much.

  3. I don’t get why this issue seems to be such a big deal, when it is no different from any other PC. After installing Windows on a desktop PC, how much space is left on your C: drive? This isn’t a typical, limited purpose tablet with an OS in flash and separate user space – this is a full PC with the OS installed on the C: drive that is shared with user storage.

    If I went out tomorrow and bought a desktop or laptop PC with a 128GB drive running Windows 8, I wouldn’t expect an empty C: drive.

    1. To put it another way, this tablet is just like all the other tablets that were around for a decade before the iPad came along and mustered up 1% of its sales between them.

    2. I don’t get why this issue seems to be such a big deal, when it is no different from any other PC.

      Exactly the problem. Even when Microsoft sets out to “reinvent” the computer as a slick new tablet device, they cripple it with enough bloatware to hamper even a full-fledged laptop.

    3. But I also wouldn’t expect it to be 2/3 full straight out of the box. You can get a MacBook Air with a 128GB SSD, and even with the OS and other software pre-installed, you still start out with more than 90GB free.

      1. The 128GB Surface Pro has 83GB free. This isn’t too much less than the 90GB free on the MBA. You can always uninstall the MS Office trial to get back more space.

        I should also point out to people complaining about bloatware that there is no third-party crap installed on the Surface (it is like other Microsoft Signature PCs in this respect).

        1. This. People love throwing words around that they clearly don’t even understand and reacting with incredulity to things they incorrectly perceive as unusual.

          Bloatware is not software that is bloated – it a a word that refers to a specific type of unnecessary, bundled software (look it up! internet!).

          The Surface is, as indicated by the price point, an ultrabook alternative that doubles as a tablet. Comparing it to the ipad is just stupid. Can I run the full Adobe CS on an ipad? Then stfu.

          As others have pointed out: the 40gb can be significantly reduced by putting the recovery partition on an external usb stick (I read by ~8gb) and removing Office. Lucky the surface comes with a USB port and micro SD slot to increase the capacity if you really need to ($65 for 64gb on amazon). If people insist on comparing to an ipad, it’s funny how they ignore this.

          Finally: Software is growing in size.. are we really surprised? The Adobe CS6 suite is something like 20gb installed. Windows 8 64bit requires 20gb on PCs. Why is everyone so shocked? If you don’t like it buy something else.

          To get in before being called a M$ apologist: I am nothing of the sort. I WILL NOT be buying one of these because I have a laptop (legit win7), I have a desktop (illegit win7) and I have a tablet that I am very happy with already (Nexus 7 if you must know) so getting a sort-of-in-between thing that costs too much (like the surface) makes no sense. I just appreciate an objectivity that seems sorely missing from most of the uproar around this.

          Edit in reply to Marco:
          Your selective quoting of my comment is pretty irrelevant to my point. I run CS4 on my laptop because it’s not spec’d to run anything better. If space is an issue, install an older version. Very few people (if any at all) use the full CS suite. Ever. If someone has the whole thing installed you should ask them how many programs in the suite they’ve used and what each one does. So, yeah… my point remains. You can run any of the CS programs on the surface. You can run NONE of them on ipad.

          1. «Can I run the full Adobe CS on an ipad?»

            «The Adobe CS6 suite is something like 20gb installed.»

            «The 64GB model will in fact contain just 23GB of useful space»


  4. While I really wish the Pro had more usable storage, comparing Windows 8’s footprint to iOS or Android is hardly a fair comparison. Lament Windows RT vs iOS or Windows 8 vs MacOS but stick to apples and apples.

    1. Actually, it is pretty fair, because we are talking tablet storage space vs another tablet’s storage space.

      1.  Except one tablet will run heavy duty applications, the other will run thin apps. The first one needs more code, the second doesn’t.

        1.  Look, I’m not trying to say you don’t have a point, but the only difference between heavy duty applications and thin apps is bloat.
          Unfortunately, once you get used to the underlying problem of windows bloat, its easy to see it as necessary, instead of a real problem.

          1.  yet a commentor on another of my posts was bemoaning the lack of features from past versions of Office in the new version.

            I’d be interested to know what full-size commonly used application we can do without. I like to use Paint for basic photo editing, but I can see why some people use the Really complicated tools in Photoshop

  5. Of course, unlike iOS devices you can actually but additional storage in these things, so not exactly catastrophic.

    Although it’s pretty dubious advertising. I expect people to take them to the UK’s Advertising Standard Authority if they don’t make it really clear what space is actually available.

  6. Yep, “this is comparing apples to oranges” is the blindness.

    The Orange is a failed “full desktop OS on a tablet” product, failed for 15 years, failed every time it’s pushed on the market, failed despite overwhelming marketing efforts.

    The Apple is the iPad.

    The Surface Pro is “Let’s take the Apple and make it into an Orange! Then we can keep selling Oranges.”

      1. In that case why on earth would you buy an apple-turned-orange when you could just keep buying oranges?

        1.  Because this is a damn thin orange and incredibly portable, which some people actually do need and would make constant use of.

    1. Can you expand on what you mean about “failed for 15 years”?

      Are you talking WindowsXP-with-a-touchscreen devices, or what? 

      1. tablets computers.  i’ve had several motion in research tablet pcs.  stylus/ink enabled xp, vista, and win 7.  some with capacitive touch as well, some with just stylus, but they were tablets, just the screen, keyboard was separate.

        while i loved the devices at the time they never gained any market traction despite being pushed like hell marketing wise, whereas the iPad has been hugely successful.

        that is what i believe he is referring to.

      2. If he were, that would be kind of silly since XP has only been in existence since 2001.

        In 1993 I had a Compaq Concerto tablet PC running Windows 3.11 on a 386, with detachable keyboard and pen-based handwriting capture, though the handwriting to text part never worked.  Otherwise it worked OK and I did some Internet demos for my nascent ISP with it, back when you had to explain the whole idea of Internet to people.  The Concerto, like so many tablets after it, also sank almost without trace (though with some fond fans for many years after.)

        So Rob, you can push that up to 20 years of failed tablets, not 15 years.
        [Edited: s/3.13/3.11/]

  7. Delete recovery partition. Free space increases by 15gb.

    Delete installed Office. Free space increases by 3gb.

    40gb free from a 61.4gb drive. Sounds pretty reasonable.

        1. …and you can restore your surface pro by booting off of usb, just press f2….oh wait…the screen and cover keyboards don’t work if you need to do a recovery. :-(

          1. *patient expression* I’m sure they’ve done a touchscreen workaround for that. The option to move recovery off to USB is built in to the system.

          2. it would be *possible* to do a touch screen or hold the side volume button or whatever workaround, but to my knowledge they have not done any such workaround in win8.

            could you point me to where I could read more about how they worked around this since you are sure?

          3. Why are you so sure they wouldn’t? Its a pretty basic feature, especially on a system specifically designed for touch.

            And for that matter, why wouldn’t the keyboard work during recovery? Its not wireless. And even if you didn’t buy one of the ‘proper’ KBs for the device series, you can plug in any random $10 USB KB in an emergency, or borrow one for free. This is a stupid thing to complain about.

      1.  I work in an Enterprise environment, we’re just going to house all that shite on a server or external USB, just like we do with our desktop, laptop and notebook images.

    1. @NoahC “Delete recovery partition. Free space increases by 15gb.
      Delete installed Office. Free space increases by 3gb.
      40gb free from a 61.4gb drive. Sounds pretty reasonable.”

      Your absolutely right and these instructions will probably be on the first page of the user guide so what’s everyone complaining about??

  8. Thing one: why are they reporting that it has a hard drive in it?

    Thing two: If I were to buy a laptop with a 500 GB drive and 300 GB were taken up by the OS, I’d be plenty pissed.

    This has bothered me with the way these devices have been advertised (regardless of platform) from the get-go. My wife’s Android phone has all kinds of carrier-installed bloat on it (I’m talking about you undeletable John Madden Football Demo) that really bites into the “advertised space”.

    1. Thing one: why are they reporting that it has a hard drive in it?

      Because CBS Legal told them to, dammit!

      (Actually, the writer may just have been respecting the nomenclature that Microsoft uses. From the Surface disk space FAQ:
      Q: How much storage space do I have?
      A: Here’s how much hard disk space you have available out of the box:
      The 32 GB version has approximately 16 GB free hard disk space.
      The 64 GB version has approximately 45 GB free hard disk space.

  9. To be fair, iOS and Android are mobile operating systems without a lot of features that come along with the full version of Windows 8, which is what the Surface Pro runs. 

    Windows should probably switch to a cloud recovery partition implementation similar to what Apple does on its desktop/laptops – that’d probably free up a solid 10GB.

    1.  Have it as an Option, not a requirement. Lots of people live in places with bad internet access or none at all.

  10. If people want a supported Windows MacBook Air, they just get an ultrabook (yes, they still actually make the MBA-like ultrabooks! Even though that branding now covers everything from nail files to atmospheric processing stations.

    1. Actually, if you really want a Windows MacBook Air, can’t you just install Windows on your MacBook Air (you perverted beast)?

  11. What this makes very very very clear, is that Microsoft is still being run by marketing and accountancy. Any vaguely competent software engineer, with only 64GB of space to work with, would have put in a lean operating system that allows users to add exactly which software they want and need. The fact that they have the opposite of the technically obvious solution tells you a lot.

    1.  No, the goal is to make the user environment as similar as possible across desktops, laptops and tablets with as little retraining as possible, that’s a good Design goal. Although the lack of cheap add-on touch/’wave my fingers’ interfaces (currently, a number are coming) for regular screens is hampering the average non-tablet-using person’s appreciation of the Metro interface.

      1. Just like they did in the last big MS Office transition? There are things I still can’t do in Office that I could before.

    2. I liked your comment.

      You are absolutely 100% correct, the company is run by Accountants and Marketing people and situations like this prove this.

    3. Just by slapping a real USB port on it requires like 5GB of preinstalled drivers to keep customers from complaining too much when they try to attach their toaster and fridge.

  12. But but but… it has a MicroSDXC slot so you can pay more out of pocket to get the storage you were told you’d have.

    1. As opposed to Apple’s complete lack of exapandability and their habit of charging $100 more for $20 (retail!) worth of flash memory.  Not that a Surface will be darkining my door.

  13. People who want to keep their whole movie and music library on a tablet are the same idiots who still buy the ipod classic.

    It’s now so easy to stream all your medias. Plus, contrary to the ipad, you can connect external hard-drives, usb keys, sd cards… Or just delete your recovery partition and free up some space.

      1. The brilliance of Apple’s products is that I don’t see the ipod nano and the ipod classic as the same kind of device at all! (I’m using  “brilliant” here the same way you would call Hanibal Lecter brilliant), and the problem with Microsoft is that they think like you do, that the ipod classic is as good as the nano but bulkier.

      2. I disagree. It takes me at least 80gb to be sure I’ll have the variety to account for ‘what I really wanna hear right now is X’ on that long trip. I don’t have any idea right now what I’ll want to listen to in 8 hours, but I can be sure I won’t have it if I only have 16gb of music.

  14. Apple makes brilliant and beautiful consumer devices. Microsoft makes business software. Its not hip… but really if users want/need tablets, and one joins a windows domain as a managed device and runs whatever you need, and the other doesn’t… then the MS Pro looks good. Also the x86 proc with a touchscreen that I can bring to bare metal and rebuild how I want is a big deal to me. I can use it for a ton of stuff.

    Everything in my world involving Windows PCs works and is relatively easy. Everything involving an Apple branded anything causes me to have to research a workaround, because what I want to do is solve problems by creating solutions, and usually that solution is outside the walled garden… which is a fancy name for a fucking box with rounded corners.

      1.  Sure, let’s open the device that my corporate network sees as a key extension of myself to random bugs, flaws and hacks, that’s a Great idea. Also, good luck taking your company-provided Surface Pro back to IT and saying “after I jailbroke it, it started acting funny…”

        We recieved 10 iPads months ago, they’re Still not working because we don’t have the funding for 1 device per user, they have to be shared, and that Doesn’t work nicely in an Enterprise environment where all network actions are supposed to be traceable to a unique user. As a single-user device for a staff member I trust, sure, but as a multi-user device, with some of those users being somewhat random people? It’s getting all Kinds of locks on it, or it’s going to be a huge threat to everyone else.

    1. But I don’t see the move towards tablets as one led by function but rather style. So if you dont get style, there’s really no need for a tablet eh?

    2. I like my fucking boxes to have rounded corners. We get injured far less often that way. Not sure why you hijacked a thread about tablets to start talking about fucking boxes.

    1. Unfortunately, bread that was compatible with previous versions of Microsoft toaster (i.e. ToastsForSure™-enabled rye) can’t be used with this device due to conflicting copy-protection standards.

  15. The vast majority of this comment thread (and indeed, the original article) is ridiculous whining. I actually think the author has fallen for an orchestrated anti-Surface pr campaign, as have many other tech authors. The google news timeline of articles on this topic is very odd. 

    I wouldn’t buy the 64GB version for *personal use*, sure, but it’d work fine as a corporate IT solution – indeed, it would discourage users from treating their work machine like a toy and loading it up with their own stuff. The 128GB is the home-consumer device.

    There’s no reason to single out this particular device for having smaller-than-advertised storage unless you’ve all forgotten what size HDDs were ~5 years ago – and we didn’t have any decent external storage options then!

    1. Surface, the tablet your boss wants you to have. Uh no, most people want to buy one device and be able to do both, if Microsoft is only appealing to some small demographic of work only users, they are going to fail, again.

    1.  I read an Intro to Computers book as a kid, it talked about most computers having 32k of RAM, but some Whiz Kids had 64k! (with a graphic of a guy typing madly with a cool “64k Whiz Kid” flying banner!)

      1. I had a TK85, the Brazilian version of the Sinclair. It was 32K standard and you could upgrade it to 64K. But that was only for the rich kids.

  16. I recently got Lenovo X1 Carbon with 128Gb SSD and Windows8 preinstalled. Found only 70 gigs of available free space. Needless to say I wiped it clean  immediately (including recovery partition) and installed Ubuntu.

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