microsoft,  surface pro,  surface rt,  tablet,  windows

Microsoft Surface Storage Space Disappoints

The Surface, Microsoft’s answer the to the Apple iPad, just went from “Gee, I really want to play with that!” to “Are you friggin’ kidding me?! That sucks!”

Not that long ago I tweeted that I wanted to get a Surface RT tablet – the smaller form factor version of Surface that doesn’t run full blown Windows PC apps.  The device itself looks to be well made and not too heavy.  The battery life is OK, not great when compared to an iPad.  But the lure of the Surface tablet, whether it’s the Surface RT or the Surface Pro, is that it comes with touch enabled, tablet optimized-ish, versions of Microsoft Office.

Ok, so far so good.  Ya, Microsoft’s prices are higher than Apple’s, but it’s Windows and Office on a tablet.

And then Microsoft released the Surface Pro storage specs.  Not good.  Not good at all.

“Microsoft is getting ready to ship a version of its Surface tablet, the Surface Pro, which features the full Windows 8 operating system installed on the tablet. The device comes in two models, a 128GB and a 64GB. Microsoft even makes a note on the specs of the Surface Pro that formatted storage capacity will be less but doesn’t mention exactly how much less. Want to know the truth?”

Microsoft has published a storage specifications page over on detailing how much storage space is left for you to use on your new tablet after the bloated versions of Microsoft Windows and Office are installed.

The snippets below are from Microsoft’s Surface storage page.  I will note, that only the Surface RT is mentioned by name and I am not sure if that is a typo or if there is another page specifically for the Surface Pro.

Surface storage

Important  System software uses significant storage space; your storage capacity will be less. See  1 GB = 1 billion bytes

Surface with Windows RT comes in two storage configurations. Users can select between a 32 GB and 64 GB version of Surface. As with all PCs and tablets, the operating system and pre-installed applications take up a certain amount of available storage. With Surface, you can store and enjoy media content, and also get real work done, right out of the box.  Surface comes with these pre-installed apps you’ll need for work and play[.]

How much storage space do I have?

Here’s how much storage you have available out of the box:

The 32 GB Surface with Windows RT has approximately 16 GB storage available for user content
The 64 GB Surface with Windows RT has approximately 45 GB storage available for user content

The one bit of good news is that there is a microsSDXC card slot built into the Surface which allows you to add up to a 64GB of additional storage space.

To me, this all seems kind of disingenuous.  Yes, when you format a storage device, hard drive, flash drive, flash memory, you lose some space.  That’s just accepted in the technology filed.  It’s true for the iPad, the various tablet’s running the Google Android OS, and even my HP/alm TouchPad.  But when you advertise a 32GB device, and there is only 16GB of usable storage space left, well, then you are selling a 16GB device, not a 32GB device in my book.

I might still get a Surface RT, but not before they show up as refurbished devices in Microsoft’s stores or other online retail outlet.

Pricing and Availability

The Surface RT is on sale now starting at $499 for a “32GB” unit without a keyboard cover.  The 32GB Surface RT with a keyboard Touch Cover goes for $599.  A “64GB” edition of Surface RT with Touch Cover sells for $699.  The Surface RT is available at Microsoft retail stores (if you can find one) and online at  You can also purchase them at Best Buy and Staples.

The Surface Pro with Windows 8 will go on sale on February 8 and is expected to be around $1,000 with a Touch Cover.