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Microsoft Surface Pro 128GB only has 83GB of free space

by Mark Tyson on 29 January 2013, 10:09

Tags: Surface, Windows 8

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Only a week ago we had confirmation from Microsoft that the Surface Pro computers would be launched on 9th February in North America. As well as using a completely different architecture to the Surface RT computers and running the Windows 8 Pro OS, other key “Pro” differentiators are the stylus and the larger amounts of built-in storage; a choice of 64GB or 128GB. Now it looks like those storage capacities are for necessity rather than luxury.

OS and apps use up a lot of space

Softpedia claims to have received a statement from Microsoft concerning the free storage available in the 128 GB version of the Surface with Windows 8 Pro. Owners of a new 128GB Surface Pro will only have 83GB of free space. When formatted a 128GB drive usually has about 120GB of capacity available. By my rough calculations, the OS and pre-installed software therefore eat up approximately 37GB of space on the device.

Having 83GB of free space isn’t too tight if the Surface is merely your portable rather than your only computer. Also Microsoft reminded Softpedia that the Surface Pro is equipped with; USB 3.0 ports, microSDXC card slot and a 7GB Skydrive cloud storage facility.

Surface Pro 64GB version, a tight fit

If the amount of free storage on the 128GB version of the Surface Pro sounds on the lean side consider the cheaper 64GB version. If the formatted capacity of the 64GB drive is only 60GB and the OS and default apps add up to 37GB that leaves owners of these new Surface Pro machines with a rather limited 23GB of free space. Installing all your favourite Windows apps could easily halve that (on my relative freshly installed Windows 8 system, apps, not including games add up to 9GB).

If you look at the spec page for the Surface Pro on Microsoft’s website there is a hint that 64GB is going to be a little tight, check out the screen grab below. I’ve highlighted Microsoft’s note in green.

*System software uses significant storage space. Available storage is subject to change
based on system software updates and apps usage.

Previously Microsoft Surface RT users may have been a little disappointed with the OS and apps for that system taking up a lot of the available fixed storage capacity. In fact a California lawyer sued Microsoft because his new 32GB Surface only had 16GB of free space. Now Microsoft provides a storage space reference table (scroll down) for Windows RT powered Surfaces.

HEXUS Forums :: 19 Comments

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I'm not sure what to make of this. After all, my understanding is that the Surface Pro is NOT designed as a replacement for a proper laptop - more targetted instead on those light-spec ultrabooks. So really only as vehicles for Office plus perhaps one or two specialised applications? I can't really see someone seriously wanting to run Photoshop for example.

As the article says, there's always disk crates, flash drives or cloud storage for your data. And I'm sure I remember seeing someone saying that they'd got a way to (seamlessly?) get programs installed on removable storage and not have Windows have a fit when the drive wasn't there all the time.

Oh, and I just checked my work's laptop (which has quite a lot of stuff installed in addition to the usual Windows7+Office Pro) and the total space used is claimed to be 105GB. But that includes 53GB of music files, software archives and virtual machines. So maybe the Surface Pro is fine for business use, but less so for home use.
For the price you'd really expect more I think. Sounds like they could have done with a 64GB partition just for the OS and either a 64GB and 128GB user partition.
Crossy, wouldn't you just put all the music on a MicroSDXC card?

A friend of mine bought a toshiba ultrabook for about Ā£600 iirc. It has a rather small SSD. After the recovery partition (which this surface no doubt has) it had about 30gb free. a couple of 16GB sd cards make up their media collection of films.

Whilst not ideal, its a lot more economic to buy SD cards than SSDs due to the much cheaper flash requirements.
So, does anybody know what those 37GB actually are? Does the Surface Pro come with a lot of pre-installed software, like pre-built computers usually do, or do they somehow need that much for the OS?

The latter seems hard to believe, since the OS on my W8 VM does not use anywhere near as much storage space.
Well there is the recovery partition, that will be big.

Given that the Surface RT ships with Office, so will the surface Pro, granted it will probably be a home license unless you've got office 365 or some other upsell ****. But there goes another few GB.