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Data Storage Handhelds Microsoft Portables Windows

64GB MS Surface Pro Only Has 23GB of Free Space 588

An anonymous reader writes "From the LA Times: 'Although Microsoft's 128 GB Surface Pro tablet is advertised as having 128 gigabytes of storage, the amount of space available to users is much less than that. That's also true for the 64 GB model. The Redmond, Wash., company confirmed Tuesday that the 128 GB Surface Pro has 83 GB of free storage, while the 64 GB version comes with 23 GB of open space. The reason for the difference: space already taken up by the tablet's Windows 8 Pro operating system and various preinstalled apps.' It's generally understood that your device won't have as much available storage as advertised, but it's usually a lot closer than this. Should device-makers be required to advertise how much storage is available to users, rather than the size of the storage media?"
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64GB MS Surface Pro Only Has 23GB of Free Space

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  • OK. Next? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:13AM (#42736583)

    Yes, they should.

    • Re:OK. Next? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tx ( 96709 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:20AM (#42736625) Journal

      I don't think they should be required to advertise how much space is actually available, however Microsoft should be looking to give people reasons to buy the Surface Pro; instead here's another reason not to. PR fail.

      • Can the apps and OS be removed? If so then the total storage space is interesting. If you can't, then free space is more intreresting.
        • by Pieroxy ( 222434 )

          Are you asking if Microsoft - ardent member of the TCPA alliance and pushing it to every manufacturer out there - is going to allow alternative OS on their own tablet? Knowing that their principal cash cow is Windows should give you another clue.

          • I was thinking about all tablets. If they are locked down with Android, iOS or Windows doesn't matter. As long as I cannot remove or alter some of the content of the device I'm not interested in how much space that content needs, all I need to know is how much space I can control.
            • Re:OK. Next? (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @10:26AM (#42737137)
              You have 58 GB to control after formatting. Windows is about 20GB. Then you have pagefile, hibernation file, recovery partition, and apps - all of which can be adjusted or removed. So if you're using windows you have 38GB of flex space. Another OS might have more.
            • You are thinking like this is a PC. It's not, no matter how much you think it is.

              • Re:OK. Next? (Score:5, Insightful)

                by kenh ( 9056 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @10:33AM (#42737209) Homepage Journal

                No, actually, it IS a PC, no matter how much you think it isn't.

                The only issue is that rather than have distinct OS storage space, as most tablets do, this device stores all software, user content and OS in one large storage space.

            • Can you install your own OS on your DVD player?
              • Can you install your own OS on your DVD player?

                Of course. That's how it became a DVD player. Until I installed the OS and the DVD app, it was just a computer and an optical drive. It's the installation of software (which definitely does include the OS) which breathes life into the otherwise useless hardware.

        • Re:OK. Next? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Tx ( 96709 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:32AM (#42736723) Journal

          According to the article and comments on Ars Technica which I read earlier, the recovery partition can be moved to an external disk, and another fair chunk of space is supposed to be a trial of Office, which can presumably be removed. Those two things would get you to around 40GB free, which is about what you'd expect for an install of Windows on a 64GB disk.

        • Can the apps and OS be removed?

          Aside from a few off-brand tablets, have you ever known any tablet that you could do this to (without jailbreaking them)?

          • You can on all Windows 8 tablets. No jailbreaking required.
        • How long until someone hacks Ubuntu or another OS onto the Surface Pro? This might sell more Surface Pros if it's easily hacked.
          • You mean LinuxMint?

            • I'm not sure if Linux Mint has touchscreen compat out of the box but Mint w/ Cinnamon is my preferred Linux port.
            • by ssam ( 2723487 )

              The linux mint developers have this crazy idea that everyone want to use a mouse and keyboard with their tablet. you probably want the trendy derivative called ubuntu, they have forked the user interface to so that it still works on a tradition touch screen. the trouble is there are so many of these crazy forks, unity, gnome3, plasma, not very sustainable. :-)

          • Hacks? Its an x86 windows machine with a full USB port. You can just connect a cd drive or USB key and install. You can do this on day one, nohacking required.
      • I don't think they should be required to advertise how much space is actually available...Wrong answer. It sickens me to watch my Samsung phone complain about low system memory when 70% of it is taken up by preinstalled apps I don't want.

    • Re:OK. Next? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dave Whiteside ( 2055370 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:25AM (#42736657)

      and then what happens after a few windows updates .. how much space will be left then

  • Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hedleyroos ( 817147 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:13AM (#42736589)

    For the first time a summary that ends in a question can be answered by a yes.

  • On linux (Score:5, Interesting)

    by walshy007 ( 906710 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:14AM (#42736591)
    On a typical linux distro like fedora I could have every app I'm ever likely to use _and_ their developer libraries in just under 10gb, always makes me wonder why windows is so much larger and provides so much less.
    • Maybe Windows proves more features.
      • Re:On linux (Score:5, Interesting)

        by O('_')O_Bush ( 1162487 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:25AM (#42736663)
        That would be the story of the century. One reason is that Windows likes to keep redundant copies of things. Looking for the login screen background? It is located in no less than five different places on your HDD. This is true for many files.
        • C:\Windows\System32\oobe\background.bmp

          What others?

          • In newer versions of Windows several additional copies are present in System Restore and their pseudo-versioning thingy, both of which are not available as plain files (they waste space just the same).

      • Re:On linux (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:27AM (#42736673)

        Yes, I dare say that one could install Windows XP and come in well under 10GB as well. The surprise isn't that Windows 8 is large - it's basically two disparate OSes, plus Office - the surprise is that they didn't really consider that when choosing a hard drive size for this tablet. 80GB was a piddling amount of space for a Windows machine five years ago.

        • When I was in middle school, I had a laptop with a 6GB hard drive.

          I dual-booted on it. Windows XP will work fine in 3GB, as long as you're careful.

          (This was before SP3, though, and I may have had to skip SP2 as well. Can't remember.)

      • Heh... funny...

      • Re:On linux (Score:5, Informative)

        by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @10:09AM (#42737009)

        Let's see... on my current Linux install my root drive (no user documents or settings) is 9.5GB.

        I have..

        * A full office suite
        * An email / calendar program
        * A bitmap graphics program
        * A vector graphics program
        * A general diagram tool
        * A diagram tool for making GUI mockups
        * A UML modelling tool
        * A mind mapping tool
        * A project management tool
        * A selection of different media players, each tailored for a purpose (music, video)
        * A CD ripper
        * A CD creator
        * A DVD / video transcoding application
        * A webcam app
        * A photo management app
        * Two different web browsers
        * More than three different text editors, all with features that blow Notepad.exe out of the water
        * A backup system
        * Database management tools
        * The tools for three different version control systems
        * Development kits for C, C++, Ruby, Python, Perl, XML, Java, C# (probably missed some out)
        * Two Java development environments
        * File differencing tools
        * A hex editor
        * The thoroughly awesome GNU tool set which by itself makes you more productive with a large folder of text files than anything else
        * Encryption software
        * Archive tools for every common archive format and most of the uncommon ones

        * Several sets of remote desktop / system management tools
        * VPN software
        * A Windows-compatible file server

        * A sticky notes program
        * A BitTorrent client

        * A unified instant messenger client
        * A specialized IRC client
        * Skype
        * A unified social network client

        * A cloud folder with 5GB of complimentary storage

        * A calculator
        * A few desk toys
        * A typing tutor

        * The usual system management widgets

        * A means of pretending to be Windows when the need arises


        * A package management system that keeps ALL of it up to date (not just the operating system)
        * and doesn't need a reboot every time it does it ... No, I don't think 40GB of Windows provides all of that.

        (no, not all of this came out of the box, but all of it was available for free, and all of it fits in that 9.5GB ; there's some "payware" on there too but I didn't include it above)

        • Re:On linux (Score:5, Informative)

          by Ralish ( 775196 ) <(ten.moixen) (ta) (lds)> on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @02:21PM (#42739983) Homepage

          I'm not disputing your central point but there a few technical reasons that account in part for the much greater usage of space on modern Windows operating systems relative to Linux distributions. They may interest some, and are worth keeping in mind:

          WoW64 Compatibility Layer
          Specific to 64-bit installs is that 32-bit binaries are also installed for the vast majority of the operating system. This is due to the WoW64 compatibility layer that allows for (generally) seamless usage of 32-bit software on a 64-bit Windows operating system. Effectively, a full 32-bit copy of all the OS libraries and binaries are installed alongside the 64-bit native copies. During usage of the operating system you're generally running 64-bit native code with some exceptions (e.g. Internet Explorer is by default 32-bit due to the plug-in problem), however, when you run a 32-bit application it will be able to pull in all the 32-bit libraries it needs from the Windows install. On modern Windows Server systems you can actually outright remove the WoW64 compatibility layer, removing all those extra binaries, and in the process losing the ability to run 32-bit applications. This isn't an option on client versions of Windows (although it would be nice). Obviously, what with the overwhelming majority of Linux software being open-source, the need to include 32-bit libraries is much diminished due to most software being ported to 64-bit with relative ease and native 64-bit packages being offered. At any rate, the WoW64 compatibility layer will easily add several gigabytes to the install.

          Windows Servicing
          Another key distinction with Linux systems is how the system is service (ie. OS updates are applied). When you install an update to Windows via Windows or Microsoft update an update package is downloaded and installed which will include any number of updated binaries. Crucially, the original binaries are not removed but kept in a cache in case they are needed later. This is important in the event an update is removed in future, as it allows Windows to automatically downgrade the affected binaries to the "next best" available binaries available in the servicing cache (which might be the originally released versions, or those from an earlier update). Obviously, this results in Windows installations growing larger over time as they accumulate many additional versions of binaries as they are distributed via Windows or Automatic updates. The effect is doubled in the case of 64-bit installations as the update will typically include both 32-bit and 64-bit binaries in the case that WoW64 includes 32-bit versions of the targeted binaries. For the curious, you can find all the distinct packages installed on a Windows system under C:\Windows\WinSxS. The directory will typically be huge both in size and number of files/folders. Almost everything in the C:\Windows folder and various other parts of the system are in fact just hard links to files in this folder. When an update is installed (or removed), these hard links are updated to point to the appropriate binary files in the associated packages in the cache.

          At any rate, these two aspects of Windows alone can add a substantial amount of extra data to the installation. That being said, storage is cheap, so it generally outweighs the negatives, but with SSDs being smaller capacity than most traditional HDDs, you can in some cases feel the pressure!

          • by rustl ( 49621 )

            Windows Servicing . . . . the original binaries are not removed but kept in a cache

            But this is a clean installation!

            So you are saying that over time, with updates, the amount of storage space available to the user will steadily decrease.

    • Android phones typically do *not* list their capacity - either total or available. Instead they just have a memory slot. The customer can put in as much or as little memory as they need, without being charged a rediculous amount (Microsoft $100 for an extra 32GB of space; a 32GB micro flash card is about $25).

    • I could have every app I'm ever likely to use _and_ their developer libraries

      I don't think it's an issue of Linux vs. Windows. I think it's a case of you vs other people's use cases. For example, the Adobe suite clocks in pretty close to 10 gb all by itself. There are plenty of games that are bigger than 10 gb.

      These are not unusual things to install on a computer.

    • Actually Windows 8 is an improvement from Windows 7. Apparently printer drivers take up a rather large chunk of space, and in Windows 8 they reworked the way printing works a bit and were able to get away with a lot less space used by drivers.

      Or something like that. At any rate I dual booted Windows 7 and Windows 8 RC and I can personally confirm 8 has a significantly smaller footprint than 7.

    • by rsborg ( 111459 )

      On a typical linux distro like fedora I could have every app I'm ever likely to use _and_ their developer libraries in just under 10gb, always makes me wonder why windows is so much larger and provides so much less.

      More relevant, iOS6 only takes about 1GB of space (iOS1 took only several hundred MB), and even if you want to compare apples to apples, OSX clean install of mountain lion easily fits in 10GB.

      40GB of os+delivered apps is pretty insane. WTF are they installing in there?

  • Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:19AM (#42736619) Journal

    And to think that yesterday I was complaining that our corporate Win7 image payload (which includes an automated "reimage" virtual disk) was fat and bloated at 13GB.

    Well, it still is fat and bloated. But it's a slender reed compared to this 41GB monster.

  • by Kirk Brady ( 2828589 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:21AM (#42736627)
    here is this beautiful car for you to buy, with 5 seats...but you can only use one of the seats because the plans to re-build the car take up the other four seats...
    • Re:analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by miknix ( 1047580 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:36AM (#42736769) Homepage

      it is more like:

      here is this car for you to buy, with 5 seats...but you can only use two of the seats because the engine takes the other three...

      It is amazing what software companies can escape with, things that in other engineering fields would totally blast them companies with lawsuits.
      Can you imagine a civil engineer gradually patching structural inconsistencies in a bridge as they show up? Yikes!

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:23AM (#42736643) Homepage

    If they want to say it has "storage space" of amount X, that's how much should be available to the user.

    If I were renting storage space in a building and said "this is 1200 sqft" and only made 500sqft available because I installed electrical and environmental equipment in there, I would be rightfully challenged by my customer(s).

    The proper way to handle it would be to set asside space for the OS and then install the 64GB or 128GB storage device for the OS to serve up to the user just as it would be proper to set up electrical and environmental gear outside of the storage space of my storage facility.

    Business in the US gets away with far too much "interpretation" when presenting information to its customers. This duality of storage space for RAM and HDD is equally outrageous. Sectors are still in base-2 oriented increments because RAM is in base-2 increments. Why break things just so that HDD makers can lie to the users?! In the end, when the lie becomes the norm, the effectiveness of the lie wears off rather quickly. (Gasoline prices are measured in dollars, and the 0.9 cents doesn't quite have so much meaning... we have all learned to just add one the the last digit in the price haven't we?)

    Let's get back to the simple truths.

    • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:28AM (#42736677) Journal

      If I were renting storage space in a building and said "this is 1200 sqft" and only made 500sqft available because I installed electrical and environmental equipment in there, I would be rightfully challenged by my customer(s).

      Clearly you've never looked at houses in London.

      The sq footage will sometimes include eaves storage, always include parts of the attic extension where the ceiling is so low that the square footage is only accessible to a hobbit and also the cellar. Those are not nice, dry spacious American style cellars either, they are old coal cellars, damp and prone to flooding.

    • If they want to say it has "storage space" of amount X, that's how much should be available to the user.

      If these machines will run anything but Windows, then they should advertise the actual storage space. If they will only run Windows, they should advertise the available storage space, and also be forced to tell you that the hardware was deliberately crippled in order to not permit running alternate operating systems.

      Let's get back to the simple truths.

      How much storage space is has is a simple truth. If [the majority of] consumers care how much available space there is, then companies will compete on that basis. [Most] consumers don't. They on

  • No. BOTH. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MasterOfGoingFaster ( 922862 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:23AM (#42736647) Homepage

    "Should device-makers be required to advertise how much storage is available to users, rather than the size of the storage media?"

    No. They should advertise BOTH storage size and available storage space.

    • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

      What they should do, the logical thing to do, is put in two damn drives. Storage is so fricking cheap these days, it makes no sense that they don't. One obviously holds the OS, with room to spare for updates and DLL bloat. The other is the actual user drive. Advertise 128gb, give 128 gb.

      • Yea just like how every computer and other device with storage I have purchased over the last 30+ years has done this....oh wait no it hasn't.

      • Storage is so fricking cheap these days

        But less is still cheaper than more.

  • Can't find the story, but has this not already been discussed here, at length?
    I'm all for constructive criticism, but gratuitous MS, Apple, Android, *X bashing is just...boring.

    Having said all that, >40GB taken up by 'system' files, WTF?

  • Can probably subtract another GB for the office install.
  • by milkasing ( 857326 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:31AM (#42736713)
    The product managers seem to have forgotten what it is for someone to just go in and start using a product. To really find out how much a feature is worth. There are so many things they could have done...
    1. Just deleted the recovery partition to begin with..
    2. Provide a cheap recovery USB stick with the recovery OS and apps on it
    3. Pre-load surface with a 32 GB micro SD car
    Personally I feel surface Pro would have flopped in any case (a 4 hour battery charge for something specifically meant for mobile use is nonsensical), but things like this make it seem that the folks at Microsoft are not even trying to market to the customer.
  • "Can you free up space?"

    PCs have forever been shipped with loads of extra crap you don't care about. I'm sure many of you would have had your own procedures for undoing this? Deleting intro videos, AOL trials, stupid 'value add' software no-one wants, pre-imaged recovery images that can be archived to DVD, demo audio files, office trials etc... This has always been the Microsoft way.

    However, it's never been hard to delete them off the hard drive (although there should have been a first boot wizard that give

  • Windows 8 is a full blown desktop operating system. It is going to carve a large chunk of space out for its system files, swap, hibernate etc. and I would hope and expect anyone buying a tablet running it is going to have a clue about that. However it is pretty stupid of MS to contemplate releasing a 64GB version of the tablet when it just invites stories like this to be written.
  • Should hard drive manufacturers now be forced to publish the amount of available free space left after installing [list of popular OSes who paid for the advertising rights] on a new hard drive you wish to buy, just so you're aware of how much space you're going to have left to transfer your [illegal movie/music collection]?

    Should GPU vendors be forced to publish expected performance metrics for [list of popular OSes who paid for the advertising rights] on the box of a new video card?

    At some point designers

    • you are seriously arguing listing out usable space when a large fraction of it is used by from the factory is a bad thing?

      1%-5% used up - that is accounted as overhead by most people.

      50% used up, that's not fucking overhead any more.

  • I was going to write something about how end users need to be aware of how much space things take and then the coffee kicked in.

    How the fuck do you release a 41 GB mobile OS?

    Simple: MS has any number of project teams, and they all need to write code to deliver features, but they don't account for disk space.

    At some point, the hardware guys need to say, "okay, we can provide X GB of space for X dollars, more storage space is going to require more chassis space, thermal effects, $, etc."

    Then that gets parcele

    • How the fuck do you release a 41 GB mobile OS?

      I don't think you do ... I think you shove a desktop OS into a tablet, and graft touch onto it.

      I suspect Microsoft didn't create a mobile OS, they just put it onto a mobile device.

  • Microsoft is losing it big time. This was supposed to be a new generation of products that gets people excited about Microsoft in the tablet market, instead its just one stupid thing after another. I was waiting for Surface Pro as potentially a workstation replacement for my job, but considering its nothing more then a tablet with a butchered version of Windows desktop running in the background and slightly beefier CPU then most tablets (but far leaner then any desktop), it's very disappointing. And the

  • For reference, my 64GB iPad 1 had something like 58GB free when new and empty.

    iOS is a lighter weight OS meant for phones and tablets, I suspect MS has shoe-horned their full desktop OS into a tablet.

    That's fairly heavy weight if it's taking up half the device, and makes one wonder how bloated their phones are unless that's an entirely different OS.

  • Commodore did the same thing with the Commodore 64


    ...and the VIC-20's 5K RAM (3583 BYTES FREE)

  • I bought a 16 GB Nook Tablet last year and it only had 1 GB for user storage.
  • by T.E.D. ( 34228 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @10:16AM (#42737067)
    They didn't mention the 32GB Surface for users on a budget. When you get that one, you actually owe them 9 GB.
  • And how will the system update? When you need to flash a new version on to it, how will it download, unzip, and move the files into place if it takes 20 Gigs just to download it...?

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.