Microsoft Surface RT 32GB tablet reserves nearly half its storage for Windows, Office apps

You only get 16GB of free space with a 32GB Surface RT, thanks to built-in software and recovery tools.
Written by Sean Portnoy, Contributor

One of the competitive advantages Microsoft's Surface RT tablet seemed to have over the full-sized iPad is that it offered twice as much storage at the same base $499 price point -- 32GB versus 16GB. But it turns out that advantage isn't quite as striking as it appears on the surface (pun fully intended).

Microsoft has posted a FAQ about Surface RT storage, and it reveals that out of the 32GB built into the tablet, only half of that amount is free for users to access. The total disk size thanks to the Windows binary systems is 29GB, and then Windows RT, the Microsoft Office apps, and other built-in apps total an additional 8GB. Throw in another 5GB for Windows recovery tools, and you're left with 16GB of free space right out of the box.

That's a far bigger footprint than is occupied by iOS and Android on competing tablets. According to PC World, a 32GB iPad provides you with 29GB of free space, while the Android-based Google Nexus 7 tablet offers 13GB of free space on a 16GB model.

Microsoft will point to the fact that, unlike the iPad, Surface tablets have a microSD memory-card slot that gives you another option for increased storage. And with more people relying on cloud services to stream music and video that are space-eating files when downloaded, capacity may be less important these days. Nonetheless, the fact that you're not getting anywhere close to 32GB of free storage on a Surface RT tablet when you purchase one should be something potential buyers should be aware of. 

Editorial standards