A company spokesperson has confirmed to The Verge that the 64GB edition of Surface Pro will have 23GB of free storage out of the box. The 128GB model will have 83GB of free storage. It appears that the Windows 8 install, built-in apps, and a recovery partition will make up the 41GB total on the base Surface Pro model.
Computers, tablets, and smartphones have always had less usable space than their advertised storage capacities because of preinstalled software.
If your computer’s “1 TB” hard drive has 50 GB of preinstalled software and unusable space, you still have 95% of its space for user storage, which is hard to complain about. But advertising a “64 GB” Surface Pro that only has 35% of its space available to the user is a very different story.
This is deceptive enough advertising that the FTC should consider taking action. As tablets become more computer-like and mobile OSes get larger, this is only going to get worse.
Everyone should play by the same rules. A proposal: storage capacities referenced or implied1 in the names or advertisements for personal computers, tablets, and smartphones should not exceed the amount of space available for end-user installation of third-party2 applications and data, after enough software has been installed to enable all commonly advertised functionality.3
With today’s OSes, iPads could advertise capacities no larger than 12, 28, 60, and 124 GB and the Surface Pros could be named 23 and 83 GB.
If those numbers don’t sound as good, or the manufacturers don’t leave themselves any room for OS-update expansion without changing the names of their products mid-cycle, that’s their problem to solve, not ours.
To prevent manufacturers from getting around this by dropping the “GB” and just using model numbers that imply a size, e.g. the “iPad 32” and “iPad 64”. ↩
To prevent manufacturers from cheating by shipping devices with minimal OS installs that require additional downloads to get functionality that almost every user would want or expect to be there already. ↩
To prevent, for example, Microsoft from excluding the size of Office from the Surface or Apple excluding the size of iBooks from iOS devices. ↩