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MS Surface 32GB = 16GB

Jun 26, 2008
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One of the competitive advantages Microsoft's Surface RT tablet seemed to have over the full-sized iPad is that it offered twice as much storage at the same base $499 price point -- 32GB versus 16GB. But it turns out that advantage isn't quite as striking as it appears on the surface (pun fully intended).

Microsoft has posted a FAQ about Surface RT storage, and it reveals that out of the 32GB built into the tablet, only half of that amount is free for users to access. The total disk size thanks to the Windows binary systems is 29GB, and then Windows RT, the Microsoft Office apps, and other built-in apps total an additional 8GB. Throw in another 5GB for Windows recovery tools, and you're left with 16GB of free space right out of the box.



Addicted to Bacon and StarCrunches!!!
Sep 6, 2009
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Mar 24, 2010
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Not really a problem as, contrary to other tablets, it has a full sice USB port.

I played with a Acer RT tablet at a shop and it is running smooooooth, at least a lot smoother that my Asus Android tablet. (Not that it matters, I will not buy a tablet untill this one died)
Nov 12, 2012
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Not really a problem as, contrary to other tablets, it has a full size USB port.

The idea of having a portable, 'small' device like this that it is just that, portable.

Having to have a flash drive poking out of this thing kinda defeats the point... it becomes pretty cumbersome due to the added risk of breaking the device/USB port or your flash drive by accidentally knocking it while its plugged in.

You can avoid that by using a micro flash drive but you shouldn't need to in be first place.

I guess its the old trick of "total space vs usable space" as usual.... pretty shady and I'm sure plenty of people will be left feeling cheated by this.

Not really useful for Microsoft when they will already struggle in this market segment as the competition has a strangle hold that'll be hard to break... :shadedshu
Oct 10, 2009
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Put MicroSD card in. Problem solved.
Mar 26, 2010
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Completely Bonkers

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I think it is a valid discussion. The iPad's iOS, a relevant comparative, IRC uses about 2GB for iOS and scratchspace. So if you buy the 16GB or 32GB you get about 14GB or 30GB of usable space or thereabouts. It is approximately the advertised storage space. Let's use the 80:20 rule and allow for 20% disparity.

However, the Surface is quite different 32GB giving you circa 16GB usable space means 50% lost. This is a binary order of magnitude (2x factor). And a reason to be unhappy about the accuracy of the sales specs.
Aug 11, 2011
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Mar 24, 2010
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maybe some MS brainey arrived at the conclusion that solid disc space is obsolete, AS we have the cloud... :-/


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Sep 1, 2010
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Apps can't access the SD slot, just the main memory.
That's pretty bad. :shadedshu

Over the past few years I've managed to talk my friends out of buying Ipods for that exact reason... no SD slot/or in the case of the surface, gimped. Using a Sansa Fuze with a microSD card you'd have to try real hard to run out of space, and if you do you don't need to buy a whole new MP3 player.

Who in their right mind would pay the extra $100 or so to go from 16GB to 32 when for $15 you could pop a 32GB microSD in. That would be very bad for business for the tablet makers.
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I thought the advertised space was for the total capacity... not how much of it is free... so in that case they didn't lie.
Oct 2, 2004
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The total disk size thanks to the Windows binary systems is 29GB...
Windows despite the fact that they mark gibibytes as GB, they still calculate them right (with 1024 conversion unit). It's the storage mediums makers who take GB strictly, meaning 1000 bytes instead of 1024. Why no one complains over their lazy asses who are still ripping users off by using 1000 instead of 1024 !? Or change the units to Gibibytes now that its an ISO standard...
Aug 10, 2010
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I thought the advertised space was for the total capacity... not how much of it is free... so in that case they didn't lie.
It is but in the case of the Surface its a bit more misleading than others. Win8 uses half the space of your 32GB surface leaving you about 16GB. Android and Ios tablets leave you about 30GB of your 32GB device after the OS.

I can see how people feel slighted when they find out that their surface has only half the space they saw advertised especially if they have used an android or ios tablet that had most of the space available.
May 21, 2008
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Lol I love how company's still hold on to the 16GB or 32GB, I mean seriously you can easily fit triple that into these, heck you can buy SD cards with Read/write speeds of 90MB/s+ for $50

I don't see how anyone can sue Microsoft they say 32GB and it has that much! It's just being used. It's simple they don't know anything about computer, why don't people sue computer company's when they buy their new Desktop with a 500GB HD and it only has 430GB left from the OS and other stuff. The lawyer is mad because he can't fit all is porn on his tablet now.
Jan 22, 2007
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Apps CAN access the SD Slot.. it just takes a few extra steps.

In my surface i have a 32GB SD Card, went into disk management and mounted it to a folder i created on the C: Drive.. Problem solved.
Nov 9, 2010
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Legally it only matters HOW they advertise that 32GB space, and if they don't actually CALL it "free" space, they are fully within their rights to say it's 32GB despite half being taken up by the built-in software. For that matter, it actually IS free if you wipe the drive and put what you choose to on it. No one is forcing you to use Office and those other built-in apps

The word "storage" doesn't automatically imply ALL of that space is free. This simply comes down to a matter of people assuming before checking the facts. Those complaining have no one to blame but themselves if they don't read up on what they buy.


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Nov 22, 2005
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Apps can't access the SD slot, just the main memory.
Metro Apps can't access the SD Slot directly, however the SD card can be mapped to appear as a folder in the main memory with no special software or anything, which the apps can then access.