|Microsoft officially (and confusingly) discloses Surface Pro storage figures||
Now that the Surface Pro is on sale, Microsoft has finally disclosed how much free space buyers of the new device can expect. No, those numbers aren't the ones you read last week.
Some commentators were horrified when Microsoft mistakenly confirmed that the smaller Surface Pro would only have 23 GB of free disk space and the larger 128 GB model would be limited to 83 GB of storage.
As it turns out, those numbers are way off the mark. The actual figures, when expressed in the decimal system used to calculate the 64 and 128 GB total storage, are 32 GB and 96 GB, respectively.
If you use the built-in tool to relocate the Recovery partition, the amount of free space available climbs to 40 GB for the Surface Pro 64 and 104 GB for the Surface Pro 128.
On its website, under the heading, “What are my storage options?” the company says the Surface Pro 64 GB model leaves “approximately 29 GB available for user content.”
The 128 GB model
The 128 GB model, that page says has about 89 GB available for personal data.
Both numbers, of course, exclude the Recovery partition, an 8 GB slice of space at the end of the SSD.
That partition can be copied to a USB flash drive, increasing the available space to 37 GB and 97 GB, respectively.
A footnote leads to a detailed breakdown of available storage, which was just updated overnight.
Confusingly, the numbers describing total storage (64 GB and 128 GB) are listed using the decimal system (billions of bytes).
But all of the numbers for used storage space are reported using the Windows binary system, which makes them appear to be smaller than they are.
With the Surface Pro 128, you get almost exactly 75 percent of the total storage for data files and new apps. With the smaller 64 GB device, you get almost exactly 50 percent for user data and new apps.
If you relocate the Recovery partition, those percentages increase to 81 percent and 62 percent, respectively.
When I checked in with Microsoft late this week, the text in this disclosure was still being reviewed by lawyers.
It appears the technical and marketing teams didn’t have much of a say in the process. The footnote at the bottom of the page still mentions only Windows RT; it should also include Windows 8:
Those numbers count only the included solid-state drive, a stock C400 mSATA part from Micron. Both Surface Pro models also include USB 3.0 ports and SD card slots, giving them access to essentially unlimited external storage.
(The maximum SD card size is currently 64 GB, but larger cards are in the pipeline.) And of course, both devices are capable of connecting to network and cloud storage as well.
The question for potential buyers, though, is this: How much local data storage do you really need?
Let’s ask the market: As of this morning, a few hours after the Surface Pro went on sale, Microsoft’s web site shows the 128 GB model as out of stock. Would-be buyers can’t even place an order. By contrast, the 64 GB model is available for immediate shipment.
The situation is similar at Microsoft's retail partners, where the 128 GB models were out of stock everywhere I looked. Best Buy isn't taking orders from its website, but Staples is. They can ship a 64 GB model immediately, but you can't place an order for a 128 GB device.
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