Microsoft's 64GB Surface Pro tablet ships with about a third of its advertised storage capacity when it goes on sale February 9. While it's common for tablets to have less storage space available because of preinstalled software, the Surface Pro is one of the worst offenders compared to the identical issue faced by Apple's iPad, Amazon's Kindle Fire HD, and Window RT.
Microsoft confirmed the $899 64GB model of the Surface Pro will only have 23GB available for use out of the box -- that's just under 36 percent of the advertised capacity. The rest is taken up by the full Windows 8 Pro install, preinstalled apps and a recovery partition, which make up for the 41GB occupied. The 128GB model of the Surface Pro comes with 65 percent of its advertised storage capacity available, 83GB.
This is not the first time the Surface tablets from Microsoft are in the spotlight due to how little storage space is available for users out of the box. When the Surface RT tablets were introduced in October, the 32GB Surface RT actually came with 16GB free to use (50 percent of advertised capacity), while the 64GB version has 45GB free, which is around 70 percent of the storage advertised on sale.
In comparison with other tablets, Microsoft appears to offer the least available storage space. iOS on an 16GB Apple iPad takes no more than 4GB of space, leaving some 75 percent of the advertised capacity for use. So, for example, the new 128GB iPad actually has some 124GB of available storage, with the OS taking just over 3 percent of the space. For the 128GB Surface Pro, Windows 8 Pro takes 35 percent of the storage capacity -- over 10 times more than the iOS.
Amazon also leaves more than 78 percent of the 16GB Kindle Fire HD storage available to users, while the 32GB model comes with almost 27GB free. Similarly, the 16GB Barnes and Noble Nook HD+ comes with 13GB user accessible storage, while the 32GB model has 28GB free.
Having a full Windows 8 Pro install on a tablet-sized device has its trade-offs. You can install and run a full desktop version of Word or Photoshop, but your tablet will only have a limited amount of built-in storage available to use, and half the battery life of normal tablets . However, the Surface Pro allows you to extend your storage capacity via a full-size USB 3.0 port and a MicroSD slot, while on the iPad you are stuck with the built-in storage.