Microsoft’s Surface OS is a resource hog

By , Oct 18, 2012

We’ve been covering Microsoft’s Surface and other competing tablets quite extensively here at iDB because we believe Apple is not an isolated isle and it pays to keeping tabs on what your competition is doing. Now, a 32GB Surface RT matches a 16GB iPad 3 in terms of price, both costing $499. That said, Surface RT users will wind up having less storage space available because the operating system and bundled apps require a significant amount of storage. It almost comes close to installing a Windows on a PC…

This comes via a Reddit thread (via DaringFireball) dealing, where Microsoft’s Test Manager for Surface RT responded to a question regarding free space on a 32 GB Surface RT:

After the OS, OfficeRT and a bunch of apps, you will still have more that 20GB. As you say, you can always add an SD card and while you cannot add apps there, you can get music, movies and photos there.

As you know, each Surface includes a preview build of Office 2013 Home & Student Edition, to be updated to the final version for free once it’s available.

It wasn’t immediately clear exactly how much storage space the Surface OS itself requires.

Microsoft has said a lot of dubious things in the past. Just yesterday, another Microsoft exec tried to make the case for the Surface’s 1,366-by-768 display being crisper than the iPad’s Retina display at a whopping 2,048-by-1,536 pixel resolution screen.

Apparently “doing a side by side with the new iPad in a consistently lit room, we have had many people see more detail on Surface RT than on the Ipad with more resolution”, per Microsoft’s response in a Ask Me Anything thread on Reddit.

As for system requirements, even with OfficeRT “and a bunch of apps” taken into account, more than ten gigabytes of storage will be wasted for these components.

In my view, this seems nuts.

Compared this to iOS that requires a mere gigabyte of storage – with all of the stock apps included.

Apple, of course, with iOS has taken its desktop operating system and stripped it of all unnecessary assets to keep its footprint small, both regarding the amount of RAM necessary to run smoothly and in terms of free space required to store the operating system’s files.

The Surface RT ships alongside Windows 8 next Friday, October 26. Apple’s iPad mini is thought to hit store shelves the following week, November 2.

I don’t know, 10+ gigabytes just for the Surface OS, OfficeRT and a bunch of apps seems like a massive waste of storage space, wouldn’t you agree?

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  • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

    I think it’s fine. PC users are used to this, and they added in expandable memory for that reason. Office alone is the reason many will be picking up the surface, so you have to factor in how much space that would have ate up anyway.

    • Mohammad Ridwan

      Let’s hope Microsoft do well with this product.. It will bring some great competition for the Cupertino boys..

      • CollegiateLad

        I hope you’re right. But it seems Apple doesn’t look to Redmond for inspiration.

    • Sentry

      Problem is, this isn’t being pitched to your PC user.. it’s advertised as a portable device, in the tablet market. That market user base is definitely not used to having to worry about the OS hogging so much space like their desktop does.

      That said, it won’t exactly be a deal breaker for anyone, on its own anyway. But still, that’s a lot of space for a portable device to be taking away from the user that would have been able to store actual media content on instead.

    • http://www.twitter.com/macmixing Dom Esposito

      Exactly. With Macs or PCs you always have less storage than the actual hard drive has “available.” It’s just part of the game. I’d compare the Surface RT to a computer more than I would an iPad as far as storage goes.

    • CollegiateLad

      As usual, Jeff misses the big picture. Imagine what this will do to your data on a cellular model. Or Skype?

      • Yujin

        Explain your “big picture”

      • BearManPig

        what will it do? enlighten me please.
        besides… theres not even a cellular model lol

      • CollegiateLad

        No kidding…that’s probably why I said “on a cellular model”. You know, when they get around to releasing one.

      • BearManPig

        anyways, WHAT will it do on a cellular model if it comes out someday?
        i dont see what storage space has to do with 3G or LTE…

      • CollegiateLad

        Of course YOU can’t see it. Try downloading a 3 gig app on your 2 gig data plan and get back to me… Resource hog indeed. App footprint needs to be much smaller. Can you walk on your own now, or must I continue to hold your hand?

      • BearManPig

        why would you even download a 3 gb or even a 1gb + app on celular if your data plan is capped…?
        theres this thing called wifi for that.

      • BearManPig

        did i win yet? :P

      • CollegiateLad

        You won via rear naked choke… Bastard. :p

    • http://twitter.com/Shgshgshgshg Stephen H. Garber

      Agreed plus the surface has twice the storage space for the price when compared to the iPad. It’s really only like getting 20 GB instead of 15 GB when compared to the iPad…

      • Mohammed Sahib

        My 16 GB iPad2 came with only 13.x GB free space!

    • Jerry

      you are right. Apple usually gives us half ass applications which do basic things mos of the night not full capacity I am sure the reason these 10 gigs are used is because is the full fledged software

      • Jurassic

        “because is the full fledged software”

        Actually, the software on the Surface RT is Metro software only (no Windows apps).

        So if you think that iOS apps that do the same thing (examples Pages, Keynote, Numbers, etc.) are “half ass applications”, then you will find that the Metro versions of the desktop Office apps will be just as “half assed”.

        Metro and iOS apps are designed for multi-touch (larger interface components), the smaller screen (less work space), and the limited internal storage. Neither of these types of apps will be anything like the desktop versions.

      • goofygreek

        you should choose examples that you dont have to PAY FOR. Im sorry, but who is going to write a paper using the notes app? At least with the surface, they are giving you office with it. Which, for the price of office, makes it very worth getting the surface, that is, if you actually BUY office and not just download it. Even if they do slim down word/excel/etc. They are FREE alternatives to your Pages, keynote, and numbers reference.

      • Bart

        iWork is practically free. And supports multiple installs. Nicely compatible with Offive on Mac/doze.

  • CollegiateLad

    I’m somewhat surprised that if I bought a 32 gig tablet, I would only have 20 gigs to play with. It’s not a deal breaker but it does explain why they didn’t offer a cheaper 16 gig version. You would only have 4 gigs to use… lol.

  • mervynraj

    i dont think people actually worry about how much OS takes up storage or how much GBs left in their device… ive got an old 8GB ipod touch but never worried about running out of storage… there’s nothing to worry especially when ur signed up to a cloud system!! microsoft, apple, google all have their own cloud system… stop being too hard on microsoft!!

    • CollegiateLad

      People’s requirements differ between an iPod Touch and a tablet. But you’re right about the cloud computing.

  • http://djterm.de/ Robo Term

    that explains why there is no 16gb version -> you would have only 4gb left.

    • CollegiateLad

      It’s a shame too… The $399 price point could have really undercut Apple. Wow! It also begs the question, how fast would I burn through my data with a cellular version?

  • http://twitter.com/arunchaitanya arun chaitanya

    Having Office is awesome on tablet is awesome. Even a stock ios 6 iPhone 5 for 32 gb offers only 28gb. And apple does not even have extendable memory. But it would interesting to see the clock cycles. Due to all the storage if ram goes for a toss that would be a deal breaker. I would not want to restart my tablet for every application I install like windows

    • http://policydiary.com/ John S. Wilson

      Um, you just compared iPhone 5 using 4GB for OS and Surface using 10. How do you not see a difference between the two?

  • ignar

    I don’t think Surface will be successful but not for the reason you discussed here. After all, user still has 20 GB of space that is larger than 14.xx GB for iPad with the same price. I am more interested in how much space typical apps will take.

  • VATekMan

    If you buy a 32GB Surface tablet, then start doing a lot of things and need more space, sure just add in an SD card or something else like that. If you bought a 32GB iPad and wanted to download all your class books and a movie or two, whoops, you are full and all you can do is delete. I have an android tablet, and several SD cards, that I can easily switch when I give it to my son, so that it has his movies on it, but then I have an SD card with movies for me, and it takes under a minute to switch… Even better was when we went on a long car trip, I was able to bring half a dozen SD cards, when we watched all the shows on one, we went to the next one… and kept on going. To do that with an iPad, I would have needed a computer with the files, then transfer them over…. Also, having stuff in the cloud does not help on the car trip since that would be a lot of streaming….

    Expandable storage might not be needed all the time, but it sure is great thing to have for when you do need it.

    • http://policydiary.com/ John S. Wilson

      lmao. Sorry, most consumers don’t want to juggle half a dozen SD cards, jump drives, or anything of the sort. That’s why I use iTunes Match and iCloud. I’d rather have access to what I want where I want without juggling a bunch of crap.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/XPKAVOGANBYFKXUVEDYJAIAY3A Ian

        Microsoft has the same thing where you can sync to “the cloud” so its not like apple has an advantage in that respect. this just offers you the option of using SD cards which Apple doesn’t offer you.

      • goofygreek

        i guess you missed the part where he said “that would be a lot of streaming”. You know, not everyone has unlimited internet, or wifi where ever they go. Id much rather carry around a bunch of sd cards, vs carrying my laptop around just to sync content to my ipad.

      • Bart

        the drive has wifi. Duh

      • http://www.facebook.com/yuvraj.wadhwani Yuvraj Wadhwani

        Or you could buy a 500 GB Seagate Go Flex Satellite hard drive. It’s a WIfi hdd so you can share data between multiple devices, even you iPad and iPhone. Problem solved.

    • http://www.iTechBlog.in/ taran

      the only good android tablet don’t have external storage….nexus 7..:)

      • VATekMan

        I agree fully, and is the only reason that I have not bought one yet… (Plus the rumor of a 32GB version coming out soon)

      • http://www.iTechBlog.in/ taran

        I don’t mean to be rude,but you are just invalidating your own comment…you love android tablets because of sd card slots and now you are waiting for a 32 gb nexus 7 without sd card…!!!
        what’s your prob with iPad then.??

    • Thorasgard

      I agree with that the storage issue is a problem. There are solutions. Seagate GoFlex Satellite. 500GB portable hard drive, 5hrs, dc charger, 3-8 users. < $200. There are other options for media.

  • http://policydiary.com/ John S. Wilson

    Not sure why people are confusing the RT with a computer or with the Surface Pro. Maybe it’s due to Microsoft’s poor marketing. But there is a world of difference. I agree with the author that 10GB of space for bloatware is absurd. Basically they’re effectively selling a 16GB device but have it listed as 32. That’s not going to fool anyone. And saying it has expandable memory doesn’t mean much either. Why? Because you can’t sideload apps.

    • Bart

      Spec-obsessed geeks are the target market…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ba-Tongxue/100003554938315 Ba Tongxue

    Unbelievable! Seems nuts to me, too.
    MS has got a long long way to go….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

    I know on my computer, I put a 30 gig partition for the full Win8 Pro, and I only have 11GB left after installing it; and that doesn’t include Office 2013. Every version of Windows just gets bigger and bigger. I have Win 7 Pro, Win 8 Pro, and Ubuntu 12.04 on my laptop, and I just don’t see why Windows has to be so bloated.

  • Yujin

    No wonder they need a 32gb ssd in there…now, this, no apps, and the price…no thank you…ill stick to a proven ecosystem.

  • Yujin

    The future is the cloud and apple has know this for years, while android ups the storage and also includes expandable memory, in a few years we will have the average user having 100s of apps/ games and personal content hat will be too cumbersome/expensive to keep on the device…offering access to the cloud is a way to keep cost down, have slimmer devices and guarantee your content is not lost, stolen or formatted by mistake..

    • Jerry

      your right, the future is the cloud thats why the amount of gigs used in the stock surface doesn’t matter because the rest of the things will be in the cloud

    • Thorasgard

      Distant future yes. Unless you have inside information about the carriers slashing data rates some time in the next few years.

  • The Truth

    To Christian Zibreg, it’s not a waste as you are getting a much better applications and not stripped doen ‘apps’ found on iOS. Compare office 2013 to the best office app on ios, office 2013 blows it out of the water. Even if in the 32gb surface you really get 20gb+ storage it’s still more than the 13gb you’ll get in $399 iPad 16gb. Plus with surface you are getting a full fledged operating system not a os that originated on mobile and was later ported to tablet.

  • Dan

    This isn’t a problem imo, you can add more memory as opposed to Apple products.

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com/author/dujkan Christian Zibreg

      But you can only store your media and data on SD cards, apps have to reside in the internal storage.

      • Dan

        Maybe it will end up being like android, being able to transfer apps to the external storage (doable on rooted phones). Who knows. I doubt regular apps will take as much space as the OS though.

  • http://twitter.com/zdenektopic Zdeněk Topič

    Seriously, who cares, 20 GB is still enough. However absence of mobile data and GPS is absolutely unimaginable. I wonder what idiot designed product like that, they are trying to make their Online department be profitable finally and then they make tablet without 3G/LTE, thats just absurd.

  • http://www.facebook.com/this.is.what.im.stuck.with.everyday Chris Andes

    For a person using a Windows 8 tablet, I think I have a voice.
    No matter what the cost is, I purchased an asus ep121 tablet. It came with windows 7 HP, 64gb of space and 4gb of ram, but I recently bought two 32gb micro sd cards and have 32gb to spare on my tablet. The fact that a Windows tablet would have usb ports, makes it extremely easy for transferring data, even when on a metro for example. Not to forget it being a tablet, so you won’t be installing ginormous programs or apps that you use on a desktop/laptop and take over half your HD.

    In the Windows family, Win 8 is the best due to its high response on touch devices. So personally, iOS is beaten and Windows made a breakthrough.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like iOS, I have 2 iPhones, and an iPod nano to prove how much I use it, so I’ve done my research.

    Now what desktop users think of Win 8, that’s another story.