64GB Surface Pro has just 23GB free, thanks to hefty software

Only a third of the tablet's storage will be usable out-of-the-box, while the 128GB model has just 83GB free.

Luke Westaway Senior editor
Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.
Luke Westaway
2 min read

Only a third of the available storage on Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet will be available to customers, with hefty software clogging up the upcoming tablet's hard drive.

The 64GB model will in fact contain just 23GB of useful space, CNET reports. The 128GB model meanwhile will apparently offer just 83GB of free storage.

Why do you get so much less space? It seems that Microsoft's built-in software is hogging gigabytes, while a recovery partition is also blamed for taking up hard drive capacity.

In total, the pre-installed Windows 8 operating system will take up over 40GB of space. Windows 8 is very different to Apple's iOS operating system, but in this regard Microsoft compares unfavourably with Apple, whose iPad software takes up roughly 1GB of space.

The iPad does lack expandable storage however, and Microsoft says you can free up some of that space by making a "backup bootable USB and deleting the recovery partition", though that doesn't sound like a particularly fun first day with your new tablet. If you do need to remove files from the Surface Pro, it has both USB and SD card slots to make that possible.

This is bad news for anyone looking to buy one of Microsoft's more powerful tablets, as it means that straight out of the box you'll find your storage options considerably less than advertised. The issue was also present on the Surface RT, where the 32GB tablet offered a mere 16GB of space.

Microsoft isn't the only one conning customers with capacity that isn't all it seems -- Nintendo's 8GB Wii U system can in fact only hold 3GB, once you factor in obligatory player accounts and other software. Apple does well in this regard, with the iPad's iOS software taking up only 1GB of space.

We're still waiting on word from Microsoft regarding UK pricing, but we know that $899 is the starting price in the US, so expect to pay upwards of £600.

Is it wrong for Microsoft to promote a tablet with so much less usable space than advertised? Or should we expect operating systems to take up lots of space? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.