MS surface pro

So roughly two out of each three respondents in our poll say the new 128GB iPad 4 is going to be a tough sell when it arrives on February 5.

Some folks say there’s no point in shelling out $929 for a top-of-the-line 128GB cellular iPad when a $70 more buys you an 11-inch MacBook Air.

And even though the entry-level Air has only half as much storage as the new 128GB iPad, it’s a real computer, critics argue.

Comparing apples to oranges doesn’t make sense, but what does is how Microsoft admitted – and on the day Apple announced the new 128GB iPad 4 offering, of all days – that the 128GB Surface Pro has only 83 gigabytes of free storage out of the box.

It ain’t just a serious rounding error: a whopping 45GB is consumed by the Surface OS and bundled apps, Microsoft confirms…

Microsoft in a statement this morning (via Engadget) clarified that people can always free up additional storage space “by creating a backup bootable USB and deleting the recovery partition”.

But not all customers are geeks (most aren’t) and no sane person should ever be required to delete the recovery partition and create a backup bootable USB just because Microsoft fails to fulfill the advertised promise of a 128GB device.

Here’s Microsoft’s statement in its entirety:

The 128 GB version of Surface Pro has 83 GB of free storage out of the box. The 64GB version of Surface Pro has 23GB of free storage out of the box. Of course, 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 pre-loaded with SkyDrive, allowing you to store up to 7GB of content in the cloud for free. 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.

Storage rounding errors aren’t new.

In reality, one megabyte has 1,024 kilobytes, one gigabyte has 1,024 megabytes, one terabyte has 1,024 gigabytes and so forth. But vendors prefer to round these numbers so in their parlance, one gigabyte has a thousand megabytes, for example.

This isn’t just for the sake of simplicity.

It’s a marketing scam that artificially increases advertised capacity of storage products. As unfortunate as it is, this has become a widespread industry practice and pretty much every single vendor out there is guilty of it, Apple included.

And yes, they tell readily inform you about it – you just don’t read the fine print, do you?

Exhibit A: a disclaimer found at the bottom of Apple’s iPad mini specs page reads that “1GB = 1 billion bytes; actual formatted capacity less”.

Check out this storage rounding errors table.

Storage rounding errors
Handy table detailing storage rounding errors via

In the case of the 1GB region, your rounding error is about 74 MB.

But multiply this with 128GB of storage for the Surface Pro/iPad, and suddenly the difference in getting your numbers right makes nearly ten gigabytes worth of a rounding error.

Even that pales in comparison with the difference between the advertised and actual capacity of the 128GB Surface Pro – 45 gigabytes.

Taking into account the rounding error of ten gigabytes on 128GB, plus the inevitable file system overhead, should leave us with just a little north of 30 gigabytes for the Surface OS and bundled apps.

Now contrast this to iOS which takes up about one gigabyte of device storage.

We knew from before that Surface OS is a resource hog.

Surface RT storage options

In addition, Microsoft previously clarified that the 32/64GB Surface RT has approximately 16 and 46GB of free storage, respectively.

Be that as it may, Microsoft’s policy here just doesn’t feel right.

How exactly does Microsoft justify complaints from consumers who’d discover after buying a 128GB Surface Pro they actually have 83GB, or 36 percent less storage space at their disposal?

And what if you bought a 64GB Surface Pro?

Your free storage out of the box would come only at a rather paltry 23GB as junkware and the OS eat up nearly two-thirds of storage space on the 64 gig Surface Pro.

Let me put this another way: Microsoft is about to ship the 64GB Surface Pro with as little as 36 percent of advertised storage available to users.

Before Microsofties scold me in the comments, just imagine the commotion if Apple tried to pull such a scam.

Some folks think that a 128GB Surface Pro is a better buy than a 128GB iPad 4.

By TechnoBuffalo:

At its starting price point of $800, the tablet is just $200 cheaper than a MacBook Air. It’s also $200 cheaper than Microsoft’s entry-level Surface with Windows 8 Pro tablet. Those are full featured computers that can run full desktop applications.

I wholeheartedly disagree (that one should go with a Surface Pro and not with an iPad).

The way I go about this dilemma: I can go with a tablet that has 36 percent less usable space than advertised and costs like a MacBook Air. Or, I can pay $200 less to get an iPad, the best tablet in the world, and still have 115+GB of usable space.

What on Earth was Microsoft thinking?

And whose tablet is a tougher sell now?

Note: a 128GB Wi-Fi iPad 4 is a $799 value and a 128GB Wi-Fi Surface Pro is $999. The entry-level 11-inch MacBook Air with 64GB of flash storage is priced at $999.

  • seyss

    absurd. fail.

  • CollegiateLad

    Haha… You get a paltry 23 gigs of storage with the 64 gig model.

    Sounds like a bloated mess.

    • Wassim Omais

      You think that’s bad? Look at the surface pro’s battery life…

      • CollegiateLad

        How bad is it?

      • 3-3,5 hours … at best


  • I would be so freakin pissed off if I dished out that loot to find out how much space I actually received compared to what is advertised. This could almost qualify as false advertisement, and for reasons like these I always do much research before buying a product such as this. You are right, if Apple had did this they would’ve been crucified by the public..

    • Kurt

      not if there were usb ports or micro sim card slots

      • So that way people would bitch they have to pay X amount of dollars for external storage or expensive memory cards. Please give me what you are smoking!

      • Kurt

        apple will never give you options like usb and micro sim card slots. people still don’t complain. they just smile and say “yes sir uncle tim cook”

      • For 60 bucks I can turn a surface pro into a unused 150gb of free storage lets see iPad do that!!!!

      • Once you hook up the external storage to an already thick tablet you might as well just buy a laptop..

    • And as for you sir apple does not offer the entire GB memory either. You should be even more miffed at apple because when your out your out time to buy a new one or start uninstalling. With the pro you can add way more storage if you please via micro SD card and external flash drives. Surface pro allocates memory for full system recovery and a full operating system. Something Apple does not do that’s why alot of the memory is taken up doesn’t bother me a bit I just ordered a 128gb with type cover and am looking forward to playing with it in front of my family who all have iPads and think I’m a fool for not getting one
      have fun with your apple buddies and continue to miss the boat by not taking your apple goggles off!!!

      • The shitty sales numbers for the surface speak for themselves dick weed

  • ap3604

    128GB iPad which can’t run any real computer programs = $899

    83GB Surface which can run real x86 computer programs = $999

    Seems pretty obvious which one has greater productivity capabilities…

    Btw there is no way in hell I would spend the money on either machine. 13″ MacBook Air for $999 was a better value for me 🙂

    • CollegiateLad

      What are real computer programs? I just installed google maps on my iPad… And it looks like a real maps application, am I just gullible?

      • Install non-consume-only tools like AutoCad, PhotoShop, MatLab, eTap, Acrobat, Flash,….if you can.

      • Wassim Omais

        This is why we have tablets and computers. One cannot replace the other.

      • Guest

        So, what do you think a computer in a light weight tablet form factor is?

      • Kurt

        the surface pro does both 😛

      • Dan


        Real programs = programs you install on a PC, IE photoshop/microsoft office… Not the dumbed down apps you find in app store.

      • JamesR624

        Oh yeah. I forgot. Pages on the iPad is NOTHING like pages on the Mac, a REAL program. On the iPad, all you can do is everything you can do on the mac version. Idiots saying tablets cant run “real” programs have no fucking clue what a program is.

      • Dan

        No need to be a dick. It doesn’t run full fledged programs and you know it. Does it run autocad? Maya? Full photoshop? Pc games? No

      • CollegiateLad

        You’re being the dick. It doesn’t run those programs only because they haven’t been written for the iPad.

      • Ignoring the facts, heh? Here it is again: when applications are programmed for the toyPad, they get completely dumbed down compared to their x86 PC alternative in order to support the weak ARM processor.

      • Dan

        It is my understanding that PC programs run on the Surface. Have they been written for the surface? No. That’s my point, it runs full fledged programs. I don’t see why you and that other bozo took it personally. I’m simply stating a fact.

      • Kurt

        and they wont be

      • TriguyRN

        Wow…… you really think that adobe does not have full Photoshop because they don’t feel like writing it for the iPad. WOW

      • CollegiateLad

        Yes. Adobe is lazy. Their software isn’t optimized for low power consumption and touch interfaces. Instead of rewriting flash for low power and touch, they abandoned it cause it was too buggy, a resource hog, and devastating to battery life. Judging by your “wow”, you think photoshop doesn’t exist on mobile because these devices are incapable… But I, and many others( including Steve Jobs) think it’s adobe and not the devices.

      • TriguyRN

        Photoshop would not run on a 1 gigahert dual core CPU with 1 gig of ram.

      • Kurt

        +1…a tablet is ok, its ‘fun’ but its not pc. surface pro is a legit computer. hey, its called pro 😉 not like the ipad mini 😉

      • ExRoot

        Are you serious? Come on I am a graphic designer in the real world. This crap is beginning to sound like some sort of brainwashed cult! I don’t think you guys use you counputirs for anything thing besides, movies and Pages! what us going on here?!

      • Guest

        I would have to agree. I love my iPad and am also a heavy spreadsheet user. I have “adopted” Numbers only because it is the best option for the iPad that I have found so far. However, it frustrates me that the iPad Numbers version does in fact have less capabilities than the desktop version. In addition, every time I open a file on my desktop via iCloud that was edited on my iPad it says it doesn’t support the full formatting, or this or that feature. I have lost data trying to keep my files synced between the two. And no, I don’t think I should have to open a copy every time I go from one machine to the other. That’s just counter productive. I dream of the day that my iPad has as much processing power as my PC and is able to run more productive software.

    • Wassim Omais

      Just because ARM architecture isn’t used in most computers, it doesn’t make it “not a real computer architecture”

      • CollegiateLad

        Thank you!!! Somebody gets it.

      • JamesR624

        I love how these comments are getting downvoted by the fanboys who have no idea what a “computer” is.

    • ExRoot

      I agree 110%. These arguments are absurd!!!!

    • ipad is better and will sell more.. FACT.. surface will fail like ZUUN

      • ExRoot

        Usual Joe flip flop answer. Tomorrow will criticize Apple.

      • TriguyRN

        It’s a Zune and I loved mine to death.

    • Check your info. The 83GB Surface does run any program you can run on your windows 7 desktop. It is a x86 Core i5 computer. Plus you can use the stylus pen on Photoshop and Corel Draw plus you have full HD Display.

  • Uhm, you do know it does a lot more than a toyPad and you could expand it with a portable hard drive and/or a MicroSD card, right?

    Program the toyPad to offer the same functions as a surface pro and the end result is the same; a productive/entertainment machine in a tablet form factor, with the cost of less built-in storage space available to the user.

    BTW, if you consider doing a little research instead of talking from a noobs perspective, you’ll realize that computers read values in binary and that is the formatting Windows uses to calculate the amount of storage space you have left. It’s not a scam, idiot.

    • ExRoot

      No they don’t know. This board has become some idiotic apple cult. Drop a damn turd, stamp on the apple logo and count the folks in line! Revolutionary!

      Then I’ll drop a turd, stamp on a different logo and watch the flames call my turd a copy!!!!

      • Again…. the true douces are those that come to a forum/blog dedicated to iOS and expect “fair” and “balanced” journalism… I bet you enjoy Fox News right?

  • ExRoot

    I’ve had 2 glasses of wine but seriously. How the hell can you compare a iPad to a full fledged pc. This is absolute bull. I don’t give a crap…. 83 gigs of real useful pc vs 128 of space for freaking downloaded iTunes movies! Be for real people. And just for the record my household has has gen 4 iPod touch, JB 4s, iPad 2 and iPad 4 that my mom bought my 10 year old. So don’t give me that Kane ‘troll’ crap.

    Some of you folks are living in a serious Apple ‘Bubble’!!!!

    • ap3604

      I like how you started with “I’ve had 2 glasses of wine but…” 😛

      Btw I agree that it’s pretty idiotic to compare a tablet to a full fledged computer like the above article does.

    • this is a engadget news story ripped right off. thats why it has ipad in it…

      i have no idea who writes this articles but someone is guilty of copying someone… literally word for word.

  • fail

  • I don’t mean to be pedantic but you made an error, Christian, when saying “one megabyte has 1,024 bytes”. One megabyte actually have 1,024 kilobytes not bytes.

  • Comparing pc with tablet is not fair. I can use my 1 tb external hd with surface pro, i can connect my cameras, printers, scanners. I can jailbreak my iphones using surface pro. I can use full softwares and pc games. There are tons of other things we can do on surface pro than on ipad. The biggest problem with surface pro is its price tag.

    • So you just stated some really impressive features the surface pro gives you that nothing else can do on the market including the similar priced Mac Book Air but yet you still come complain about the price. I guess you need to go buy the better 128gb iPad 4 for 900 bucks that’s a better solution. Stop ripping Microsoft and start ripping Apple. Re read your statement and kindly place your foot in your mouth please!!!!!!

      • I have ipad 3 bro.

      • Not my point the iPad 4 just released is nearly 960 dollars ( I bet no one is going to complain about the price including you what gives) iPads are not even in the same league as the surface pro and I realize the Mac Book Air was never mentioned in your post I’m just merely giving a comparo in regards to you stating the surface is to expensive. If the pro is to expensive so is the iPad and every other computing devices Apple makes Microsoft should not be singled out.. You don’t get the right to state such things especially when you coughed up the money for your iPad 3. Facts are it just isn’t for what you get and you and everyone else ranting on about price know it!!!!!!! Just don’t state all the great things it can do most of which nothing on the market can currently do then recant by saying it just to expensive it just makes you look like a retard!! Just think about it. I’m not going to get in a pissing match Microsoft deserves more credit and their getting nit picked to death and its starting to piss me off. The biggest problem with the Surface Pro is not the price its the uneducated people reviewing it then clones believing what they hear!!!!

      • I got your point. I bought my ipad 3 for around $600, My laptop around $600, my iphone 4S $600, 32″ TV $600. For me these devices above $600 is expensive. $600 is the max i want to spend on electronic gadget. That’s the reason i don’t have macbook.

  • Alu Zeros

    Will not buy a surface product, until there’s actually 128gb of space not including the OS regardless of sd card slot and GPS. Would win huge with the market place to replace every laptop and tablet on the market if it ever does.

  • batongxue

    Well, that really sucks!

  • ppl still bitching and they have USB and microsd slot…

    wow, what a non-news story this site really really sucks. I see the SAME posts all over engadget, redmondpie, etc, etc…

    First and last time on here.

    • TriguyRN

      I know they rip off everyone! And i don’t know if Redmond actually gets it’s own stories…

  • Yet another ignoramus fact skipper. Here it is, yet again: when applications are programmed for the toyPad, they get completely dumbed down compared to their x86 PC alternative in order to support the weak ARM processor.

    • Kurt


  • Latrese

    I wish I would pass up buying a Mac to buy a stupid iPad. Never saw the point of tablets for myself personally. I’d gladly take a laptop any day over a gigantic iPod touch…

  • ARM processor are power saving mode of x86 architecture. These processor are created for higher battery life over the required power and speed. Adobe, Autodesk or even apple has never thought of writing powerful apps for these ipads. All they do is, programmed the trimmed down version of their huge and successful application. The huge application are mean for either mac or microsoft and here comes the surface pro; the x86 architecture.
    The comparison over the storage is done shamelessly. The writer must have consider the big USB 3.0 which enable user to connect anything they wished to.
    Full fledged PC and toypads are never a gadgets of comparison.

  • That sucks royally…better save the money and get a macbook air or an ipad..