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Microsoft Surface Pro software devours disk space

Microsoft Surface Pro runs Windows 8 Pro, which is needy when it comes to storage space. That leaves precious little space for user files on the 64GB version of the tablet.

Uh-oh: Surface Pro 64GB version leaves you with a paltry 23GB of free disk space, says Microsoft.
Uh-oh: Surface Pro 64GB version leaves you with a paltry 23GB of free disk space, says Microsoft.

Microsoft's Surface RT tablet was knocked for the dearth of storage on the low-end version. Surface Pro isn't faring much better.

The 64GB version of the upcoming Surface Pro -- due for release February 9 -- will offer only 23GB of available storage space for user files, according to a statement CNET received from Microsoft.

"The 128GB version of Surface Pro has 83GB of free storage out of the box. The 64GB version of Surface Pro has 23GB of free storage out of the box," a Microsoft representative said in a statement.

(Note that a report from Softpedia this morning claimed only 19GB is free on the 64GB version. In other words, Microsoft software occupies an equal amount of space on both versions, according to that report.)

In short, Windows 8 will gobble up as much as 45GB on the Surface Pro, according to Microsoft's specs.

Of course, to longtime Windows users this shouldn't come as a huge surprise. Windows 8 is not a petite operating system and it's the same Windows 8 that will run on laptops with much roomier 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB disk drives.

And the lack of lots of available storage on the 64GB model underscores why there are few 64GB Windows 8 systems shipping today.

Microsoft did offer this statement, in an attempt to assuage users feeling deprived of local storage:

"Surface Pro has a USB 3.0 port for connectivity with almost limitless storage options, including external hard drives and USB flash drives. Surface also comes preloaded with SkyDrive, allowing you to store up to 7GB of content in the cloud for free."

Microsoft continues. "The device also includes a microSDXC card slot that lets you store up to 64GB of additional content to your device. Customers can also free up additional storage space by creating a backup bootable USB and deleting the recovery partition."

Surface RT -- the first RT version released last year -- has similar storage constraints, as Microsoft's fine print shows.

For example, on the 32GB Surface RT, after allowing for the OS, Windows recovery tools, Microsoft Office, and built-in apps, you're left with 16GB. On the 64GB model, you get 46GB.