How Microsoft could free up more storage for Surface Pro users

How Microsoft could free up more storage for Surface Pro users

Summary: Thanks to the inclusion of an on-board recovery partition, the 64GB version of Microsoft's Surface Pro only has a sobering 23GB of free storage available to the user. Here's how Microsoft could give users some more.

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Yesterday, Microsoft released information related to its Surface Pro storage space, and it turns out to be startlingly austere. The 128GB model has 83GB of free storage space, while the 64GB model only has a sobering 23GB of free storage available to the user.

(Credit: Microsoft)

Limited storage space appears to be the post-PC factor that Microsoft has overlooked. When you're dealing with desktop and notebook PCs, it's perfectly acceptable to allow software to undo its belt a few notches and take up tens of gigabytes. But on a tablet or smartphone, space is at a premium, and care has to be taken not to waste this precious resource. While there's no getting around the fact that software and operating systems consume storage space, allowing the install image to take up half of the available space screams of sumptuous inefficiency.

Consuming a considerable portion of the Surface Pro's precious storage space will be the device's operating system, where an image of the operating system, along with drivers and other associated software is stored in preparation of the day when the tablet's operating system needs to be reinstalled.

According to a Microsoft spokesperson, customers can "free up additional storage space by creating a backup bootable USB and deleting the recovery partition," but in my experience, this is not the sort of thing that customers do on a regular basis.

Eating up valuable space on a recovery partition is Microsoft applying PC-thinking to a post-PC world, and there are much better ways to provide users with tools to recover a dying device.

The easiest way to make room would be to move the recovery partition off the device and store it on a USB flash drive. While this would cost Microsoft a few dollars extra and relies on the user to keep track of--and not delete--the drive, it does move the recovery image off the tablet and put in on external storage.

Another option would be to take the approach that Apple has done with new systems such as the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro--download a recovery image from the cloud. Sure, downloading 5GB+ of operating system isn't going to make everyone's day, but those people could buy an optional USB flash drive containing the recovery files.

See also:

Topics: Microsoft Surface, Windows 8

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62 comments
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  • Another part...

    ...could you save the partition to the Micro-SD card?
    MediaCastleX
    • SD Cards are not bootable

      Otherwise that would be a good idea.
      Michael Kelly
      • I know for a fact that SD cards are bootable

        I've made SD cards that can boot Ubuntu. I don't know if this is possible with Windows or the recovery tools, or if there's another reason it's not possible, but it's not for the fact that SD isn't bootable, because they are.
        ModernMech
        • The only way I've seen that happen

          is when the SD card is on a USB reader.
          Michael Kelly
          • How else...

            ...does one connect an SD card to a PC? There's no "SD Card" interface on a motherboard. Every card reader in a laptop or PC connects to the motherboard via USB.
            jgm2
          • I understand that, but

            I've never seen a BIOS that recognizes it as such. I've been able to boot when it's on an external USB reader, but if you take that same disk and put it in the internal drive of the same computer it does not boot.
            Michael Kelly
          • no no

            you are not correct.
            sarai1313
      • Re: SD Cards are not bootable

        I have an ancient Asus Eee 701 that boots off an SD card.

        The B&N Nook Color could boot off an SD card.

        Any computer with no built-in SD card reader, but which can boot off USB, can boot off an SD card in a USB-connected card reader.
        ldo17
  • How Microsoft could free up more storage for Surface Pro users

    Terrible advice. The recovery partition is on there for a reason so that if you do need to recover its already available and a Microsoft support rep can walk you through the process with ease.

    "The easiest way make room would be to move the recovery partition off the device and store it on a USB flash drive. While this would cost Microsoft a few dollars extra, and relies on the user to keep track of -- and not delete -- the drive"
    That in itself is the problem. The user keep track of and not delete the drive. They would get more calls than not from people who did lose the drive.
    Loverock-Davidson
    • Yep I Agree

      Your average windows user is technically challenged.
      Alan Smithie
      • The average computer user is technically challenged.

        Lets not play pretend users are different between brands.
        Emacho
      • Hello? The average windows user is technically challenged?

        Of course they aren't, which would explain why they buy easy to use Windows machines.

        Since most don't have a technical degree in computers, hence they wouldn't buy Linux based machines. :)
        William Farrel
        • Thanks for agreeing with me

          "which would explain why they buy easy to use Windows machines"

          "Since most don't have a technical degree in computers, hence they wouldn't buy Linux based machines. :)"

          So based on your assertions windows is a no brainer and Linux requires highly competent computer skills.
          Alan Smithie
      • i keep hearing that people buy ipads because most customers

        aren't sophisticated enough for anything else.

        can't have it both ways fanboi
        Master Wayne
        • Figures...

          "i keep hearing that people buy ipads because most customers aren't sophisticated enough for anything else."

          Well you *would* hear that, because it is what you *want* to hear!

          "can't have it both ways fanboi" - Precisely, you moronic sycophant.
          rahbm
    • Loverock-Davidson...why don't you admit that the SURFACE consumers

      gets screwed when the OS takes up around 62/65% of the hard drive....but you sit here like a Microsoft drone trying to explain away why the consumer has to jump through hoops to GET A FAIR AMOUNT OF STORAGE.......... Loverock your pathetic
      Over and Out
      • It isn't just the OS

        But you are right to say that it takes a bit too much for a tablet. I had really hoped they would make it smaller than it turned out to be.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • Your points make no sense

        Calling someone pathetic is not the way to argue, make logical statements to counter the other persons argument. If you can't make your case then you loose, simple.
        Owlll1net
        • So try your OWN medicine sometime!

          But it perfectly OK to be insulting if you are a dyed-in-the-wool NBM sycophant then?

          LD, and all the other rabid fanatics on here (I'm looking at YOU) simply ARE pathetic.
          rahbm
      • The OS does not take 62/65% of the harddrive

        Please try to be accurate in your statements if you are going to flame. It's been a known fact since August that Windows 8 takes about 20GB of hard drive space. Surface ships with options beyond the OS that take up additional space. These options can be removed to free up space if the consumer wants. This is not jumping through hoops, this is exercising a freedom to customize a device to your needs. You might also say if the Surface Pro shipped without a recovery partition, the consumer would have to jump through hoops to add one. Microsoft is shipping a default configuration and it's up to you to configure it how you want.

        Nothing is new here. Tight storage exists for every PC with a 64GB drive, including the Macbook Air. The only reason this is getting so much attention is there is a contingent of bloggers and commenters who, for no discernible reason, want so bad for the Surface to be a failure, anything is blown completely out of proportion.
        ModernMech