Midway through last month, while we were still waiting for Microsoft’s Surface tablet to hit retail, we heard Microsoft’s Ricardo Lopez talk a little bit about just how much of the tablet’s storage space would be taken up by the operating system. While Lopez’s figures didn’t give us a very detailed breakdown of just what would take up how much space, it was clear from what he had to say that a 16GB Surface tablet would have simply been unfeasible. Now that the Surface RT models have arrived, Microsoft is taking a little more time to explain just why Surface tablet arrive with so little free space.
The first issue isn’t unique to Microsoft, and has been plaguing computer users for decades: the megabyte/mebibyte differentiation. It’s been a huge, anti-consumer headache, with companies selling memory and storage taking advantage of the ambiguity to lead users into thinking that their products have higher capacities than they actually do. That means that the “32GB” Surface only starts out with 29GB, as far as any real usage of the term is concerned.
From that lowered starting point, we’ve got to set aside 5GB for system recovery data, and then the base software configuration, including the Windows RT OS, Microsoft Office, and other pre-loaded apps, consumes another 8GB. All together, that brings the 32GB Surface RT down to having just 16GB free, and the 64GB model 46GB free.