How Microsoft could free up more storage for Surface Pro users

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.

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.

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