back to article Microsoft's 32GB Surface RT has 16GB of free storage

If you've saved up $499 for a 32GB Microsoft Surface RT, you might want to save a bit more for a capacious microSD memory card, or at least break out one of your external USB drives: according to Microsoft, half of that 32GB will be unavailable for your files. Microsoft has published a support note that details how 16GB is all …

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  1. Anonymous C0ward
    Windows

    And where did they get their figure of 32 decimal gigabytes?

    Flash chips come in binary gigabytes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And where did they get their figure of 32 decimal gigabytes?

      After formatting / file system dear boy...

      1. Ramazan
        Joke

        Re: 16GB after formatting

        That's patented Microsoft filesystem, boy

    2. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: And where did they get their figure of 32 decimal gigabytes?

      Flash chips come in binary gigabytes.

      Have you ever actually tried to buy large capacity flash chips? Or even used a USB flash drive? They are generally metric sizes. These are all far eastern manufacturers and if they can save 7% die area and claim the same capacity to you bet they will. It isn't as if there is any fundamental needed to fill out the memory to a nice binary size - we are not talking about parallel interface chips here.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And where did they get their figure of 32 decimal gigabytes?

      I think, although I could be wrong, flash and RAM usually chips come in Giga and Mega BIT capacities, and hence inherently binary.

      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: And where did they get their figure of 32 decimal gigabytes?

        While the flash blocks are indeed binary sizes and there may be a 'binary' total, some are reserved for wear and bad sectors and 32GiB of raw cells never ships as a 32GiB drive.

        That 7% difference is very convenient for covering that hidden space without having to list 'odd' capacities though.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Formatting since always...

    Excuse me but hasnt drive formatting always been this way? Not sure how anyone who owns a computer would not know you never get the full capacity. Half the space though is quite a bit used up, whats the size of the OS?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Formatting since always...

      Except in this case you would reasonably expect stuff "in"rom" not to count on something like a tablet.

      It's back to the days of 64k Commodore 64 with it's usable 49152 bytes of memory

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        IT'S = IT IS

        I'm still hoping this will go in eventually.

        1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: IT'S = IT IS

          I'm still hoping this will go in eventually.

          Dont you mean "Im?" Correcting grammar on this or practically any other forum is a thankless pursuit and distracts from the topic at hand. Besides, if you do away with hints of this nature, how will you know whom to ignore?

          Going back to the topic of the Slab's specs writ in Market Speak, why is it necessary to list the Cover port along with all of the other ports? It is a dedicated interface and, while important to the functioning of the device itself, is much the same as listing a hinge for the screen of a laptop. Another example of MS almost getting it is the full-size (yay!) USB 2.0 (fail!). Yes, it differentiates the Slab from the iPad, but only feeds into the marketing story that Apple wants to tell in that it is Old Tech - hardly an innovation.

  3. Dave Fox
    FAIL

    "Microsoft makes it easy for you to add more storage space"

    No,

    Microsoft make it easy for you to add an SD card to the tablet. However, the built-in apps, such as the Video player etc, can't actually see that additional space rendering it not so usable or easy for the average user to use.

    Yes, there are ways and means around this, but they really should've had a media scanner a la Android to automatically scan the external media for playable files.

    1. Mike Brown

      Re: "Microsoft makes it easy for you to add more storage space"

      woah there nelly. Windows RT cant see videos on an SD card? Im stunned.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Microsoft makes it easy for you to add more storage space"

        well, let's focus on what it CAN see on that card. It can see some things, right? Right?

        that said, I still applaud MS (did I just say: "applaud MS"?!) for adding that sd slot. Miles ahead of Google and Apple. Even if what's on the card can't be seen by the the device, it's still... a revolutionary approach, no less.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Microsoft makes it easy for you to add more storage space"

          "t's still... a revolutionary approach, no less."

          Did you REALLY say that ? - No REALLY - do you believe it ? Revolutionary ?

        2. Dave Fox
          Happy

          "Even if what's on the card can't be seen by the the device, it's still... a revolutionary approach, no less."

          Not really - it's been done before!

          When the Motorola Xoom was originally launched, it did so with an SD card slot that the OS couldn't see at all! :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Microsoft makes it easy for you to add more storage space"

      @Dave Fox

      I don't know where you got that information, but it's 100% wrong.

      I've just copied an MP4 video file to a micro SD card and played it on my Surface RT.

      1. Dave Fox
        FAIL

        Re: "Microsoft makes it easy for you to add more storage space"

        @AC 10:07

        I probably wasn't very clear - what I meant to say is that internal apps can't see videos on external storage automatically, and add them to the Windows libraries.

        You have to manually browse to the SD card and find your videos, rather than just picking "Videos". My Galaxy Note 2 scans internal and external media and presents all the available video files in the Video Player app without me having to explicitly go look for it.

        http://www.teamradicus.com/post/Surface-and-SD-Card.aspx

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Microsoft makes it easy for you to add more storage space"

          @Dave Fox

          OK, I wasn't having a go; but there's so much ill-informed comment about Windows RT that I felt I should put the record straight.

        2. Ragarath

          Re: "Microsoft makes it easy for you to add more storage space"

          So your complaining because your to lazy?

          Yes it is a nice to have feature , but your first post did say it couldn't see them which is wrong. Most people are used to finding external media themselves.

          If I have inserted a full (of say text files, PDF's etc) 64GB sd card into a slot then thought "I will watch a video" I don't want my tablet scanning that 64GB if it does not have video files on them.

          That is just me though, you (and others no doubt) obviously would and thus it would be good if it were added to the options in the future.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @ Ragarath

            I think you should keep your mouth shut, mate - as *YOU'RE obviously *TOO lazy to pay attention to basic English.

            1. Ragarath
              Headmaster

              Re: @ Ragarath

              Oh no a grammer* nazi that is too afraid to reveal themself. What a surpise.

              I must bow to your superior knowledge and ability.

              * yes this was done just to annoy you.

          2. Dave Fox
            FAIL

            "Most people are used to finding external media themselves. "

            *Most* people would probably never use external media, beyond sticking a DVD or a CD into a laptop. However, having done so, regular Windows would prompt them what they should do with it.

            I'm not talking about the tech savvy user here (who are very much in the minority) but the mums, dads, grandads and grandmothers who aren't particularly computer literate.

            P.S. Having already "corrected" the error in my original post, it's a more than a little churlish to take me up on it again, don't you think? The point stands that media on your SD card does not end up in your Windows libraries unless you are prepared to jump through hoops to do so, and that is a fail in my opinion. YMMV.

        3. Laurent Cargill

          Re: "Microsoft makes it easy for you to add more storage space"

          .....or you can just setup a junction point from a folder on the C: to your SD card and add the local folder to your Library.....et voila.....

          1. Dave Fox

            Re: "Microsoft makes it easy for you to add more storage space"

            Which is what is discussed in the link I posted earlier.... ;)

            However, this is *beyond* your average user!

  4. RICHTO
    Mushroom

    5GB for recovery partition sucks a lot. They should have enabled that as a PC download actioned via USB or silmilar...

    1. Ramazan

      5GB for recovery partition

      means that Windows RT won't fit on single-sided DVD (compare that to iOS BTW)

      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: 5GB for recovery partition

        ...yet a full Win8 64 install DVD contains just 3.3Gb (before magically expanding to closer to 16Gb installed). Office must be impressively fat. Or they just forgot to compress any of it.

      2. eulampios
        Linux

        a further comparison

        Compare it with even leaner Android. No, compare it with x86 GNU/Linux of a major distro, fitting in 1GB when compressed and occupying 5-7 GB of disk space (even with full LaTeX suite, Emacs, a bunch of CAS, DBs etc)

  5. Steve Evans

    Youch...

    Then again, did anyone seriously expect Microsoft to not be bloaty?

    Looks like they didn't spend much time trimming things down, and simply recompiled Windows 8 for the tablet architecture. There's probably still complete support for the ISA, AGP, PCI and USB3 in there!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Youch...

      WinRT isn't new as you think, it's just a layer above COM+. There is a good article over at Ars tech by Peter Bright on the subject.

      http://arstechnica.com/features/2012/10/windows-8-and-winrt-everything-old-is-new-again/

  6. Ramazan
    Pint

    Re: did anyone seriously expect Microsoft to not be bloaty

    I did. I've read Dean Takahashi's book about Xbox and it said that BillG agreed to trimmed down OS on Xbox (while initially he was all for full blown Windows there). I think BillG/SteveB need to spend more time thinking / less time drinking

    1. eulampios

      Re: did anyone seriously expect Microsoft to not be bloaty

      I think BillG/SteveB need to spend more time thinking / less time drinking

      and much lesser time smoking that Redmondian weed

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iThings

    I was explaining to a friend the other day how the 32GB in her iPod would only *ever* be 32GB, but that the "couple of gig" in her new (and cheap) Android phone could be as much storage space as she could ever wish for, simply by buying more memory cards...

    1. Martin 37

      Re: iThings

      And did you explain that she can't get pregnant as long as she keeps hold of her chips?

      1. Dire Criti¢
        Gimp

        Re: iThings

        Between her knees?

  8. Primus Secundus Tertius

    GB or E9

    If the sales people insist that 32GB is 32*10**9 bytes, they should be compelled by the Trades Descriptions Act to write 32E9 bytes.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Other reservations?

    Will Microsoft have any other reservations in their tablets?

    * Reserving half the CPU for DRM, Genuine Advantage, and virus scans

    * Reserving half the display for ads

    * Reserving half the network bandwidth for updates

    I know I have MY reservations....

  10. mark l 2 Silver badge

    16GB just for the OS, sounds like to make Windows RT Microsoft just recompiled the Windows 8 binaries for ARM and then locked it down so you could only install software from the Windows store and left all the other crud for full fat windows in there that won't be needed. Of course the surface comes with Office installed so that bound to take up a chunk of the space whether you want office or not.

    To compare the OS restore software for my Ainol Android 4 tablet fits on a 1GB SD card with just a few hundred meg of free space left

    1. The_Regulator

      hazarding a guess here not owning a surface rt but presumably the applications on the device e.g. office take up a portion of that 16gb as well......

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  13. Eddy Ito
    Meh

    How unique, just like everyone else

    So what? It isn't like Apple does it any differently when they sell iPxxx devices. If they do it differently then why is there note 2* on the bottom of tech specs page of each device?

    "2. 1GB = 1 billion bytes; actual formatted capacity less."

    * it's note 1 for the iPhone

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yet another reason why everyone else built a specific mobile OS and why bolting a mobile UI onto an ancient desktop OS is a bad idea.

  15. Dropper

    Meaningless

    There's no such thing as a decimal gigabyte and the term gibibyte is as meaningless as counting in 1000s on a computer system. Memory on all computers (it has nothing to do with Windows) is counted using binary - just because that's too complicated for sales people and computer illiterates to add up doesn't mean you can change it. That would be like teachers being allowed to tell kids 90 degree angles are 100 degrees or Pi is '3' just because geometery is too difficult for thickies to understand. That may be true both of people who buy PCs and what passes for maths students today, but it doesn't make changing the numbers correct.

    1. Kevin Johnston Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Meaningless

      If it helps, 90 degress are 100 gradians

    2. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: Meaningless

      The BIPM, IEC and IEEE all disagree with you, and define a gigabyte as 10⁹ bytes. You may not like it but that is reality. If it is a choice between using definitions devised by recognised international standards organisations and a semi-anonymous poster on El Reg I know who I will trust.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Rebecca M

        Re: Spectacularly Refined Chap

        IEEE Std 1541-2002 is relevant here given the whole standard is on the 10^9/2^30 issue. Paragraph 4.1 is cut and dry:

        The SI prefixes shall not be used to denote multiplication by powers of two.

        I see you've already been thumbed down. I'm not surprised. After all, of course some anonymous nobody commenting on a discussion forum knows better than a recognized international committee of experts.

        1. Robert Grant Silver badge

          Re: Spectacularly Refined Chap

          Well done on the sarcasm Rebecca, but the Spectacularly Refined Chap actually was saying what you said, before you, and in a less unpleasant way.

          And (slightly off-topic, but...) while standards bodies are important, it's not that IEEE are experts in anything that makes them right, it's the fact that they define the standard. It could be done by a five year old, as long as everyone else abided by his/her standard.

  16. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Windows

    Like the good old times

    1) Buy a computer with "64 Kilobyte RAM"

    2) Switch on

    3) ????

    4) "32450 Bytes Free"

  17. Guus Leeuw
    Holmes

    Where is the optional 0.80 GiB gone, then?

    Sir,

    converting between gigabyte and gibibyte: multiply by 1000**3, then divide by 1024**3, correct?

    I f do that with 32, I get (32 * 1000 * 1000 * 1000) / 1024 / 1024 / 1024 = 29.8023 = 29.80GiB.

    Meaning their rounding algorithm is off... 29.80 should read 30GiB rather than 29GiB...

    Just me 0.80 cents,

    (or Just me 0.00 cents in Microsoft terms,)

    Guus

  18. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Am I diong it wrong?

    Just checked my own 'pooter which is loaded to the gills with 'stuff'.

    OS+apps = 7G

    user data = 36G

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Unhappy

      GAH!

      Clearly, I am doing it wrong!

  19. snowdude
    Flame

    External SD would be fine... if you could install Apps to it

    Yep, you can put a big old SD card in but (unlike Android) you can't install apps to it. So if it's the apps that are taking the space then you're out of luck.

    1. Dave Fox

      Re: External SD would be fine... if you could install Apps to it

      In the interests of fairness, it should be said that later Android devices (i.e. those that shipped with ICS or Jellybean) generally don't support Apps2SD any more. This is because the device is no longer partitioned with a discreet, limited, amount of space for apps, and instead apart from essential /system and a few other partitions, apps and data share the same partition on external storage.

    2. Daz555

      Re: External SD would be fine... if you could install Apps to it

      I think we can expect an app2sd type app to find its way onto Windows tablets before long.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    I swear to god...

    ...I want to throttle the busybody knob goblins whose addled brains brought forth the 'gibibyte'. Hey, marketers hijacked a computer industry term! Here's the solution - let's *give it to them* (genius, right?) and then we'll make up our own moronic-sounding alternative! Then we can run around Wikipedia changing unit types and acting smug!

    It'll be awesome!

    Seriously. Kibibytes? Really? What freaking brain trust came up with that? Even monikers as objectively foolish as 'Wii', 'iPod' and 'iPad' managed to subsume themselves into culture, and have ended up sounding relatively normal. But the kibi-mibi-gibi gibberish sounds just as absurd now as it did on the day it appeared - despite its having been regularly shoved un-lubed up the collective anus of units users for years.

    Gibibytes are like Mitt Romney, Red Bull, and getting your penis caught in your pants zipper - you'll never get used to it.

    Thank you, and good night.

    1. Cave Dweller

      Re: I swear to god...

      Kilo, Mega, Giga and so forth aren't limited to computer memory measurement. I think it's pretty fair that they are base 10 to avoid confusuion.

      More importantly, who cares?

    2. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: I swear to god...

      "Gibibytes are like Mitt Romney, Red Bull, and getting your penis caught in your pants zipper - you'll never get used to it." -- David W.

      I got used to it. But the Bi units are only really ever appropriate for stuff, like parallel addressed memory, where decimal units are a poor fit with reality. For serially-accessed storage, bandwidth and anything else you wish to measure, you might as well stick with the decimal (SI) definitions.

  21. Code Monkey
    Windows

    So ...

    13GB o'shite then. You just don't change, do you Microsoft?

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