Microsoft Surface Pro Uses Two-Thirds Storage For Itself

Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet once seemed an interesting prospect. A tablet that was no weakling, a PC in a flat, touchable screen, with a keyboard in its flexible cover. It made us at RPS realise we need to reassess what counts as a PC, asked us questions about how far our remit now stretches. At this point, we’re now wondering if anyone on the planet is going to buy one. A thought underlined by today’s news from Verge that the 64GB version of the device will only have 23GB of usable storage.

The product, as a concept, sounds fantastic. A tablet that can operate as a laptop, and is a fully fledged PC. With 4GB of RAM, a 10″ display at 1920×1080, a Core i5 processor with Intel’s HD Graphics 4000 chip on board, creates a whole new space in the market between a tablet and a gaming laptop.

But there are a few warning signs. First, Microsoft, despite being less than two weeks away from the US release, has refused to even hint at battery life. That’s the sort of thing you want them boasting about, not keeping secret from anyone who wants to pre-order. And talking of which, if you’re not in the US or Canada, finding out when or if you can even buy one is quite the challenge. Microsoft’s UK site barely acknowledges the existence of a Surface Pro – again not the sort of thing that fills you with prospective thrills. What you can find there is a page saying “COMING SOON”, but hidden away in the Surface RT’s pages. Oh, and then there’s the price. The US version starts at an eye-watering $900, seemingly entirely missing the point of the tablet market. At a thousand bucks for the 128GB version, you could buy two similarly powerful netbooks for the same price, losing only the touch screen. And those are US prices, without the keyboard.

History suggests that the UK will get gouged for far more. Were you to pick up a 32GB Surface RT with keyboard in the States, you’d expect to pay $600/£380. The same in the UK would cost you $750/£479. That’s that amazing £100 Being Not In America Tax we all so love. So the 64GB model will likely cost around £730, with the 128GB version at £860. Those are guesses, obviously, but match the equivalent pricing for the RT.

The news that the Surface Pro’s 64GB version is going to have almost two-thirds of its advertised storage space occupied by Windows 8 itself is pretty ridiculous, but not a surprise. The RT model somehow managed very similar, despite not carrying the full Win 8 version. In fact, there’s currently an LA lawsuit taking place over what’s claimed to be misleading advertising. Microsoft dismiss the case, saying they made the actual storage size clear on their website. Well, that’s not really true. The UK site lists the storage size with a little superscript indication to look for more details, and then in tiny, greyed-out print informs,

“System software uses significant storage space; your storage capacity will be less. See 1 GB = 1 billion bytes.”

“Less” really doesn’t imply “half of”, as is the case with the 32GB RT. It also wouldn’t suffice as an indication of the 41 billion bytes lost from the 64GB Pro. It’s fair to say that an awful lot of customers will be astonished when they find out their massively expensive tablet computer has room for a third as much storage as they’d be led by the box to believe.

The 128GB model will also see a big chunk of space gobbled up, losing a mammoth 45GB to pre-installed guff. This will also include a recovery partition, which Microsoft say users can remove and replace with creating “backup bootable USB” partitions. Something with which I’m sure every home user will be completely au fait…

Curses. The notion of portable PC, something capable of even playing a far number of games, does hold good appeal. But at the price, and with the increasing pile of peculiarities, and of course Windows 8 to contend with, it does seem to be draining away.


  1. skorpeyon says:

    I… I just… I can’t… WHY does the OS need to take up 51GB of space? Ever? There is no need for it. I love how with Windows 7 Microsoft said “lets make it slim, lightweight, frikkin’ gorgeous, and smooth and easy to use” and then with Windows 8 they said “let’s make a bloated, squared off, complete 180 from every design philosophy we’ve had before now… oh, and it’s ok if it takes up 51GB of space, users won’t mind.”

    I installed Windows 8 on my desktop the day it came out. I hate it, but thought “I’ll take some time, maybe I’ll get used to it and start to like it or something.” As time wore on all I kept doing was avoiding the “Metro” interface (that we can’t call Metro anymore) and fighting left and right with the machine to find what I needed to find, open apps, locate settings, etc. I finally said screw it and wiped my computer roughly a week ago and reinstalled Windows 7. I’ve never in my life downgraded a computer, but I absolutely will not regret it this time.

    • VikingMaekel says:

      Windows 7 isn’t “slim” by any stretch of the imagination.

      A typical Win 7 installation takes up 4-5 times as much space as a typical Windows XP installation.

      • Loodac says:

        And Windows XP takes much more than 4-5 times than Windows 3.11, if we are going to look at it that way…

        • skittles says:

          Well I just checked and my Win8 folder is about 18gig. So that means that the surface pro must have about 10gig of apps preinstalled on it I should assume. Unless the RT version of the OS is bigger, but that makes little sense, it should be smaller as it has no need for a lot of the extra drivers and whatnot.

          • c71483 says:

            Wasn’t it EA’s CEO who said he’d love to see microtransactions on full commercially released games in an interview?

          • uh20 says:

            windows 8 is 18 GIGS!
            wow, i forgot how bloated it is, i just assumed it was about 5gb, such as my OS takes up.

          • Pop says:

            Clever girl! I see the trolls have evolved to bait RPS readers.

        • Mctittles says:

          The question is why? What is causing future generation OS’s to consume more hard drive space……icons?

          • Eproxus says:

            Most of it is consumed by updates (not just the updates themselves but saved installation files for the updates) and backups (that is, snapshots and restore states). I would estimate the actual size of Windows 7 itself is only half of what the folder size is.

      • MadTinkerer says:

        But that’s about what it should take. Win 7 is two generations past XP and needs to (potentially) support 64 bit memory addresses, whereas XP is The Last Great 32 Bit OS.

        Win 7 isn’t perfect, but it can at least see all 4 gigs of memory in my laptop.

        • jrodman says:

          When I upgraded from Debian for i386 to Debian for amd64, the install went from around 2 GB for the os and every app I would possibly ever use, to around 2.1GB.

          Obviously, the executables are *NOT* a large portion of the size anymore.

          It wasn’t a multi-arch install of course, so if we add the i386 libraries and so on it would have been around 2.5GB.

          Win7 does.. around 5% of what my Debian install does. And it takes up around 9x the space.

        • Mctittles says:

          64 bit just means changing your pointer size to a larger number when addressing RAM. This shouldn’t affect storage size of the OS itself.

    • Teovald says:

      Windows 8 is all about leveraging Microsoft marketshare in the desktops in order to gain some traction in the mobile space.
      It makes sense at the business level (and the businessmen are driving Microsoft) but not in terms of design, usability or coherence.

    • battles_atlas says:

      I bought Windows 8 for my media PC last week. The Vista install on there was horribly slow booting up, even on an SSD, and 8 was cheap to upgrade.

      The good news is that 8 is super fast booting up. The bad news is that it is a retrograde step from 7 in every way. The tiles thing is fine on a 720p TV screen, but the implementation is horrendous. The tiles are simply a layer of paint that sits on 7 and hides everything you’d ever want to access. After the debacle of User Account Controls it seemed like MS had figured out with 7 that security shouldn’t entail making the OS unusable. 8 shows differently. It comes with password login enabled by default for example, which obviously is really fucking necessary for most domestic PC users. Poking around gave me no idea of how to disable it. I ended up googling and the top hit told me to open a command prompt, enter a meaningless string of letters, and then a 7 interface with the option appeared (disabling it didn’t work but that’s another story).

      This is progress?

      • wcanyon says:

        > open a command prompt, enter a meaningless string of letters, and then a 7 interface with the option appeared (disabling it didn’t work but that’s another story).

        What the hoth? That sucks.

      • Wisq says:

        Any computer used in a public place (which means almost any laptop) should be password protected, if not disk-encrypted. As should any computer with sensitive personal info or logins (which means almost any computer anywhere). Plus family computers where you probably want some separation of user files.

        Really, the complaint should not be “Windows 8 makes it hard to run without a password”. It should be “Windows versions prior to 8 made it too easy (default, in some cases) to run without one”. Even the crappiest password is better than none.

      • yurusei says:

        Is there a site that lists the negative traits of the 8 OS? I know it’s bad, but I’m having a wonderful time trying to convince my clearly misinformed friends that Windows 8 is not an upgrade, not with all of these inconveniences and locked doors.

        • uh20 says:

          link to

          yes, i do hate windows, foul me for trying to protect free-dependency software these days
          the license of $70 is not worth the mostly minimal improvements (and then you will have to put up with new bugs introduces with the new system), you wont notice anything, however, you get this new menu that floods your screen everytime you access it.

          if your friends are soo desperate for a new desktop, which is the only improvement really made in windows8, then just tell them to dual boot with a kde based distro, its the pinnacle of pretty/customizable desktops right now

        • Wisq says:

          In terms of user-facing changes (UI, etc) … yes, itsmamdowngrade. However, it’s not particularly terrible if you just pull up the desktop and treat it like Win7.

          However, the real draw for me were the improvements they made to the underlying OS. In particular, better support for modern hardware — it now supports modern disk controllers right in the installer and has decent (but still replaceable) default drivers for a lot of stuff — and also that it finally understands and optimises for SSDs — no more scheduled defrags by default, all the readahead/etc. settings optimised when an SSD is detected, etc. (I believe there was a much longer list of internal improvements, but like you, I’m lacking a list.)

          Suffice it to say, if I had Win7 and had to pay to upgrade, I probably wouldn’t. However, I wouldn’t call it a downgrade overall, and I didn’t have to pay for it, so.

    • PopeRatzo says:

      The OS on a surface doesn’t take that much. If you get rid of the trial-ward MS Office, and move the recovery partition like you’re supposed to, then you end up with about 2/3 of the disk free (definitely over 40gig), which on a 64 gig machine is in line with other big commercial OSs.

      This story is a little bit misleading. I’ve been using a Surface Pro for a few weeks, and there’s room to do what you want (plus an SD slot, don’t forget). This is NOT an Apple product, so a handy SD slot is provided.

      • LintMan says:

        @PopeRatzo: move the recovery partition to where? The external USB drive you have to purchase separately and then dedicate to recovery? Just what people want after spending $900 on a tablet.

      • Wisq says:

        One: the recovery partition is total BS. They should just have given you the OS on a stick when you bought it.

        Two: I think Microsoft is seriously overestimating how much complexity most people will put up with in a tablet. This is the kind of crap you shouldn’t even have to do on a PC in this day and age, let alone a tablet.

    • bill says:

      As far as i can tell Vista, 7 and 8 all take up similar space, at least on a desktop. I made a 20gb partition to test out windows 8 and it fitted in without problems.

      So either the tablet comes with a load of apps installed, or there are recovery partitions like on my dell laptop. Or both.

  2. rockman29 says:

    Yea, I don’t really understand how you can advertise 64 GB when you only can use 21 GB after you purchase the thing. Yea, you can uncover some of it by deleting the back up…

    But seriously you’re crossing some serious lines when 21 GB is your usable space on a device advertising 64 GB. Unless it explicitly states more than half of your ’64 GB’ is going to be used by OS and backup, I can’t see this not being described as false advertising.

    • bit_crusherrr says:

      Well technically it does have 64GB of storage.

      The only product on the market I don’t that I think shouldn’t be sold (Ignoring how PC World used to say a PC had 1GB of RAM when it really had 768mb) is the 3DS XL. It doesn’t come with a charger and if you don’t have a charger for it you can’t actually use it.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        I dunno, advertising something with 64gb of space when half of it is necessarily used up is a bit disingenuous, and I imagine will easily fall foul of UK advertising law.

        • Milky1985 says:

          An 8 Gig iPhone only has about 6.5 Gig available for use and that has scooted past unnoticed so i highly doubt this will fall foul of anything, if they do start hitting them MS can point out the competition is doing the same.

          Think this thing has a SD slot of some sort anyway so you can easily add a lot more space.

          • Pengun says:

            Not only has it got a SD expansion slot – it has a proper USB 3.0 port for external hard drive / flash media or whatever. I really can’t see what the issue is – it has a set amout of storage space and then you can expand at will. Hell, if it bothers you that much install Linux. No one is suing suing WD because their hard disks come with NTFS partitions that aren’t 1tb. Frankly I am completely sold, the Surface RT is a great bit of kit and iPad owners should look upon it in awe (If you can’t do a job with MSTSC and CMD then the jobs not worth doing).

            Microsoft after all these years have actually bought some real inovation and intersting products to the market and all some people can do is whine about storage space? Strange.

            The price however is bloody insane.

          • Phantoon says:

            Real innovation? Where? This is just another tablet.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            (6.5/8)*100 = 81% available.
            (23/64)*100 = 35% available.

            Somewhat different.

          • jalf says:

            Well, you’re saying that it’s ok for a product to give you around 33% of the storage space it says on the box, because *another* product only gives you 80% of the storage space it says on the box?

            I don’t know, maybe I need to retake a few math classes, but I’m pretty sure that 80 is a bigger number than 33. It is, in fact, reasonably close to 100, which 33 is not.

            As a consumer, I would not be surprised at losing 20% disk space to builtin software stuff such as the OS.

            But losing 66%? I think I might feel a wee bit ripped off if I didn’t know about it in advance.

          • iniudan says:

            @Tenbon Actually WD most likely do sell you an actual TB hard drive, the thing is that OS calculate capacity in binary system, so what they are selling you is a 1000GB, while what the OS want is 1024GiB to make a TiB.

          • SquidgyB says:

            I suspect that some of the installation space is down to MS Office being bundled on the devices as well – it’s certainly not a plain OS install of Windows 8. I’d love to get one myself and do a custom windows install without any of the preinstalled software.

            Also, saying that there’s nothing special about this device is a bit shortsighted. Yes it’s a tablet – it’s also to all intents and purposes a fully fledged PC. That’s Steam and any PC game capable of being played on Intel’s HD 4000 whatever chip and everything else that having an i5 processor entails. I’d hesitate to call it a tablet, rather a laptop without a keyboard.

          • Eddy9000 says:

            “if it bothers you that much install Linux.”

            I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a closed system. And what was the innovative thinking behind setting the resolution at 1366×768?

        • bit_crusherrr says:

          It’s not saying it has 64GB of empty space. It’s saying there is 64GB of storage in it which is not a lie. However some people may misinterpret that as “I can put 64GB of stuff on it!”.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            If not technically a lie, it’s misleading and arguably dishonest.

            Saying “it’s got 64Gb of storage” strongly implies (to most people) it has 64Gb of *usable* storage. After all – why would the customer want to know about storage they can’t use? They can’t use it, so it’s of no interest to them. What they’re interested in is how much stuff they can put on it.

          • bit_crusherrr says:

            I agree it’s misleading. At least you can extend the storage though.

          • knameidna says:

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      • Triplanetary says:

        What the hell are you talking about? I have a 3DS XL and it sho nuff came with a charger.

        • bit_crusherrr says:

          Are you sure it was’t bundled with it as a store deal? As 3DS XL’s genuinely don’t come with a charger.

          • falcon2001 says:

            As someone who literally just bought two 3DS XLs within the last couple months from different stores, I can confirm that you are 100% incorrect.

          • emertonom says:

            I think this is a continental difference–no charger in the EU and Japan, but in North America it’s packaged with a charger. The official word on the UK version still appears to be “no charger,” though. link to

    • Snargelfargen says:

      The Windows OS has always taken up a lot of space. I think my Win7 install takes up around ~40. The only surprise is that Microsoft either hasn’t attempted any sort of optimization, or has also filled the tablet with all sorts of unnecessary media/shopping apps.

      • LintMan says:

        Most stuff I can find on the net (and my own experience) says a Win7 install is substantially smaller than that – 20GB or less. Maybe you’re counting in the swapfile size or have System Recovery enabled?

        • j6m says:

          Windows 7 x64: 20GB
          System Restore: 3-5%
          Volume Shadow Copy: 5%

    • Adam Dawes says:

      It is ultimately pretty irrelevant though. Unlike some other tablets, you just stick in an SD card, and your storage worries are solved. The only thing that the internal storage can do that the SD card cannot is install apps downloaded from the Windows Store, but 23GB is way more than enough for that.

      The Surface Pro is a full PC in a tablet form. Just because it looks like a tablet, don’t underestimate its capabilities. I’m not sure quite how it fits in with the typical RPS coverage (particularly in terms of apps from the Windows Store, rather than traditional desktop apps) but it’s running exactly the same version of Windows as you might install on a desktop or laptop (assuming you’ve not rejected Windows 8 as the work of the devil) and so is every bit as much a computer as any other, just in a different case.

      If you want a Windows device that is more like a traditional tablet, get the Surface RT instead, the price of which is much closer to that of an iPad (they’re both ~£380-£400 on Amazon). The Surface RT also has a proper USB port (which is great for connecting an Xbox 360 controller), integrates very nicely into your network (I use it to open documents from my work PC directly over the network, no cloud data synchronisation to worry about) and is generally a fantastic piece of kit. I’m over the moon with mine. I wouldn’t part with my desktop PC for anything, but the Surface is a perfect companion device.

      • Premium User Badge

        FhnuZoag says:

        How long do you think 23 GB will continue to be enough for apps you download from the windows store, if MS wants us to consider the Pro to be equivalent to a full computer?

        • Toupee says:

          Yeah, what happens when Adobe offers Creative Suite thru the Windows Store?

          Whatever. If Microsoft continues on like this, I don’t expect I’ll ever upgrade to Windows 8, or purchase any apps from their store anytime soon.

          It’s funny. I’ve been using my Nexus 7 a lot, and finding so many cool little innovative things that I wish I could do on my desktop right now. Well… I can’t. Not with Windows.

        • Adam Dawes says:

          Well then, buy the 128GB version (and there’s more accurate information on how much space it uses here: link to Or perhaps if that’s still not big enough, maybe a tablet device isn’t the right device for you after all. There are plenty of laptops with Windows 8 touch screen support. I think they’ll be a lot bulkier and heavier though…

          I’ve been using my 32GB Surface RT for months now and have used a little over half of the available storage on my C: drive. And I love it to bits, it’s one of the most fantastic pieces of kit I’ve ever bought.

    • frymaster says:

      The pro version is just Microsoft’s x86 hardware tablet. You can no more say it’s false advertising than you can say the same thing about every single laptop on sale in the world today.

      If someone came up to me and said “I want to buy this laptop, it has a 64 gig drive in it” I’d tell them that wasn’t enough. Just because the laptop’s keyboard now comes off and the screen is touch sensitive doesn’t change that.

      • Rikard Peterson says:

        64GB is quite small, yes. The 200GB in my slightly aging laptop is feeling very small, and I wouldn’t buy a computer with less than 1 TB today. But it depends on what you’re using a computer for. If they’re targeting this thing to people browsing the web and using Word, that’s plenty of storage for them.

    • roryok says:

      This is more a problem with Microsoft trying to move into the tablet space. No one would buy a laptop or ultrabook with 64GB, because – well duh. MS should be starting these things at 128GB and moving up to 256GB

  3. Stevostin says:

    Too bad. On the paper that would be my kind of things (need a bigger screen thus, so it works well with the drawing softwares the digitizer pen entices us to use).

    • Jackablade says:

      What kind of digitiser is it using? Does it have more than 1 level of pressure sensitivity? That’s the hardware element that’d make me consider purchasing or not. The limited hard drive space is hardly a concern – it’s a tablet that you lug around while you don’t have a PC handy, not your one and only source of computational power.

  4. philbot says:

    Lets just hope Surface Pro v2 is already in the works. I initially liked the look of the surface Pro, but I am a bit phased by it’s failures. This is Microsoft’s first time in building any device of this type, it was almost guaranteed to have teething problems. Just hope that they can deliver something truly brilliant next time (On board graphics too?).

    • TormDK says:

      The Surface Pro features an i7 that has a HD4000 onboard chip yes.

      It’ll be interesting to see what sort of performance we can expect from Intel’s next onboard graphics chip, they have done quite the catchup in a relative short amount of time.

  5. Cerebulon says:

    One billion bytes. Holy mac-tier marketing speak batman.
    1000 (and 24) megabytes just doesn’t sound ridiculous enough. And Kilobytes sound lame. RAMP IT UP!

    • byteCrunch says:

      But that’s like 8 billion bits.

    • x1501 says:

      1GB=8 trillion millibits!

    • Crane says:

      It’s not one billion bytes, it’s 1073741824 bytes, which is a whole SEVENTY MEGABYTES of difference.
      And more importantly, a british billion is 1000000000000, not 1000000000, so they’re even more wrong.

      • byteCrunch says:

        The British vs American Billion is a bit of a misnomer, given that the UK long ago moved to the short scale.

      • Llewyn says:

        No, this is exactly why they clarify it like that, because when they say GB they don’t mean GB, they mean billion bytes. What they’re telling you is that their “64GB” tablet does not contain 64GB of storage, but rather 59.6GB, two-thirds of which they then use for pre-installed software.

      • x1501 says:

        Nearly all storage device manufacturers define 1 gigabyte as 1,000,000,000 bytes (1000^3), not as 1,073,741,824 bytes (1024^3).

      • Low Life says:

        Except that in the case of storage hardware, 1 GB = 10^9 bytes.

        In fact, one might argue that a gigabyte is always one billion bytes and a gibibyte (GiB) is 2^30 bytes, but that’s an entirely different discussion (and that’s also never going to happen).

        Edit: Late by not one, but two messages!

    • Naum says:

      This is actually relevant information, as people still like to use the SI and binary prefixes in all manner of contexts with no consistency whatsoever. “1 GB” can mean, as mentioned above, 1024^3 or 1000^3 bytes depending on which tradition you follow. In the TB range that actually becomes important, with one TB (1000^4) being about 10GB less than one TiB (1024^4). So I for one am glad that MS actually sees the problem and includes that information.

      • Koozer says:

        In my experience, marketing departments use 1GB = 1000MB to make their product seem that little bit better, whereas sensible people use 1GB = 1024MB.

        • Naum says:

          The whole GNU/Linux ecosystem is currently trying to switch from 1GB = 1024MB to 1GB = 1000MB and 1GiB = 1024MiB. Besides, we have dedicated and standardised prefixes for the binary tradition — KiB, MiB etc. –, so using KB, MB etc. in the same way makes little sense if you’re trying to differentiate between the two. All in all, I wouldn’t be so sure who’s being sensible here and who’s sticking to a very old tradition that once used to make perfect sense. ;)

          That this inconsistency has been willingly exploited by marketing is out of the question. It’s even worse when they use kBit to hide an 8x factor from people who don’t know exactly how those are different from KB.

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        It’s an issue that’s never really come to a head because it doesn’t really have a material impact because people generally fall into 2 camps – those who understand the difference and act accordingly, and those for whom it doesn’t matter.

  6. mackemforever says:

    Yet another product that is a case of great idea, awful execution.

    As for the lawsuit, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it goes against Microsoft.

    My personal opinion is that the advertised storage capacity must be shown as the available storage capacity. If you buy a product and are only able to put 23gb of data onto it then surely its capacity is 23gb, not 64?

    • Milky1985 says:

      Quick mention of what I said above, i doubt this will happen because they will have to annoy apple/HP/Lenovo/any other tablet maker who also have the same issue with their tablets.

      Then again it wouldn’t be the first time apple are allowed to get away with something that is very bad and naughty for MS :P

      • Shuck says:

        Given that a 64GB iPad has 57GB available, not 23GB, it’s not quite the same thing. Even using the iPad as a metric, it would be shocking to a consumer.

  7. G says:

    Won’t the UK price include tax whereas the US price won’t? Which means the UK price for the 32GB RT is only inflated by about £25?

    • Bent Wooden Spoon says:

      That’s what I noticed too. I’m not denying the UK (or Europe) often gets screwed with ridiculous markup, even accounting for tax, but this is hardly an egregious example.

  8. MuscleHorse says:

    Guess I’ll keep saving for that proper super desktop and forget about this.

  9. duncanthrax says:

    > That’s that amazing £100 Being Not In America Tax we all so love.

    It’s called “VAT”.

    • KikiJiki says:

      Actually the math is a little over VAT, but yeah the US price will be without sales tax, which varies by state (Washington was 9 or 10% when I was there Nov 2011)

    • Bhazor says:

      Americans also pay the equivalent of VAT in sales tax. In some states it’s even higher than VAT.

      That difference above includes TAX.

      • duncanthrax says:

        Sales tax only applies if the vendor and the customer are in the same state.

        The prices mentioned above compare US price pre-salestax with EU price post-VAT. That is true.

        However, as a US customer, you’d be pretty stupid to pay sales tax when buying such a device. It’s easy to circumvent by choosing the right vendor.

        • Premium User Badge

          geoffreyk says:

          Generally, sales tax still applies, even if you’re buying online from a different state. The difference is in enforcement, not applicability.

        • stahlwerk says:

          Whu-what, US citizens can dodge VAT entirely on luxury products?
          Suddenly, the whole National Budget Drama has a weird tinge of good old european schadenfreude.

          • Brun says:

            When people refer to “sales tax” in the United States, they’re typically referring to the State Sales Tax. While the Federal Government does levy taxes on certain sales (gasoline, cigarettes, certain services), typically items like consumer products would fall under State Sales Tax. As others have noted, the rate of state sales tax varies wildly between states. The specific sales to which the tax applies (as well as the rate of tax on those sales) can also vary – e.g. most states tax sales of Clothing, but some do not (Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont).

            So, in terms of Federal Budget, it’s not likely that sales tax applicability is the problem, given that it’s the State governments that collect it.

      • Stevostin says:

        Or they can buy online with no VAT. That’s the smart thing.

      • Joof says:

        And in super cool states, it’s 0%. Take that dumb states!

  10. Valvarexart says:

    I fail to see how this is PC game-related. This isn’t even the same type of Windows that you find on the type of computers that we use to play games here. This isn’t a device for us. Neither is an iPhone or a Toyota. I fail to see the relevance.

    • Llewyn says:

      A) It’s relevant to RPS because one of the RPS authors chose to write about it. That’s one of the things (good or bad) about self-owned blogs; their remit is self-fulfilling.

      B) You’re confusing Surface Pro with Surface RT.

      • djbriandamage says:

        To clarify Llewyn’s already correct comments, the Surface Pro tablet runs the very same 64-bit version of Windows you’d install on a desktop PC. This device will run both Metro\Modern apps as well as full-fledged Windows applications. This means you can run Steam, SCUMMVM, DOSbox, MAME, Skyrim, and all the regular goodies. Personally, when I get mine I’m gonna install a virtualized instance of Windows 3.1 and play with the After Dark screensavers at a Starbucks!

        • Skabooga says:

          Those were the best screensavers. As a child, I would sometimes watch the marble-drop one for longer than was probably good for me. From a completely empty screen to a completely full of marbles screen, one marble dropped at a time. I always got a particular thrill when a smiley-face marble would drop.

      • Jason Lefkowitz says:

        Indeed. How could anyone possibly confuse two products with highly similar names that both claim to run an operating system from Microsoft called Windows? The mind boggles.

        • Eukatheude says:

          The point of your comment being?
          “It doesn’t run PC games so it’s not relevant”
          “Actually it does”

          So what, they shouldn’t have pointed it out to him? By the way, the article repeatedly states that, so i suppose he didn’t even read it.

    • UncleLou says:

      It is the same type of Windows, Windows 8. This is the Surface Pro.

      Tad late. :)

      • Jason Lefkowitz says:

        Technically speaking, it’s not the same Windows on both. Surface Pro runs “Windows 8”, the same OS that you’d run on your desktop PC or laptop. Surface RT runs “Windows RT”, a cut-down version of Windows 8 that only runs Metro-style applications (i.e. all your normal Windows apps are not welcome here).

        So two separate types of Windows, one of which doesn’t run Windows applications, but confusingly both are called “Windows.” To understand why, ask Mr. Science.

        EDIT: Oh, I misunderstood what you meant — you were saying it’s the same type of Windows on Surface Pro as on desktop PCs. And you’re right, of course! In the immortal words of Emily Litella, “never mind.”

    • John Walker says:

      Because it’s a personal computer running the latest Windows, designed to be used for business and games?

      • TechnicalBen says:

        I contend the “games” bit. But only because I think it would be funny to see the failed attempts (Expecting max settings on Crysis). The successful attempts with be great though (anything else that works really)!

        Touch does not map well to PC games right now. I don’t really like touch input at all. Hoping that sonar box is released soon to fix all this gumpth. :)

        • solidsquid says:

          Plenty of contemporary machines won’t run Crysis on max settings, but they might run it on min settings or run one of the many, many indie games RPS has covered. Also it has a usb port and a stand, so combined with the keyboard cover you can use it as if it were a laptop with USB mouse attached. Don’t need to use the touch screen for gaming.

          Might not be relevant or of interest to *you*, but it is relevant to the blog as a whole since it gives a way to have a pretty portable way of doing PC gaming

    • caddyB says:

      Thank you for your contribution.

    • piphil says:

      Same could have been said about laptops in the past.

  11. Bhazor says:

    Or you could buy a laptop.

    This tablet fad can’t die soon enough as far as I’m concerned. If the tablet/touch screen becomes standard then I’m going back to pen and paper.

    • TormDK says:

      I would start stocking up on those materials then.

      ‘Cause the desktop is dying, and have been for years. It is being replaced by laptops and tablets.

      All we can do is wait till the ultrabooks can deliver similar akin to our (at the time) old desktop PC’s, because mobility is what the average consumer is looking for in a computer nowadays.

      • WildBill says:

        The tablet isn’t going to die, but neither is the desktop. There will always be a demand for desktops from hardcore gamers, power users and content creators. No matter how much they increase the computing power of small form factor devices, it will always be possible to pack substantially more computing power and storage space of the same generation into a larger, well-cooled box.

        My own primary PC has 3 GHz quad-core CPU,16 GB RAM, 3 TB of RAID 1 storage, dual 24″ monitors, and gaming keyboard & mouse. I use it for gaming, video and music production software, development software, plus typical business and personal applications. In order for a tablet to replace my desktop, it would have to equal those specs right now, because if it manages to reach that level 3 years from now I probably will have an even more powerful PC that it will need to aspire to match.

        I have a tablet, as well, and I use that most often while I’m on vacation and for piloting my AR.Drone. I use my phone pretty much anywhere else for email and other mobile connectivity. So, between the PC and the phone, the tablet just plays a niche role for me. I certainly understand that for some people, the tablet would be all they need, but that will never be the case for everyone.

      • iucounu says:

        I would have thought it’d be the laptop that’s dying. I get along very nicely with a desktop (relatively cheap, seriously powerful, easily maintained/upgradeable) and an iPad Mini (does virtually everything I might want to do when out of the house.) The last laptop I owned just sat on my desktop anyway.

        • Brun says:

          Laptops are the new desktops. Tablets are the new laptops.

          For most people, laptops have replaced desktops in the sense that they are now used for things that people used to do on desktops (mostly productivity applications). Tablets and smartphones are now used for things that people used to do on laptops, like watching movies, web browsing, listening to music, etc.

          Even then the laptop really only survives for two reasons: physical keyboard and horsepower. Things like Surface are already phasing out the physical keyboard with acceptable alternatives (Keyboard Cover), and the gap between laptop and tablet is shrinking rapidly in terms of horsepower, with Surface Pro as a great example.

          • solidsquid says:

            Laptops are significantly more expensive than desktops to buy or upgrade. Hell, sometimes the upgrade requires an entire new machine. Lower price of desktop vs laptop means there’s always going to be a market for them, it’s just likely to be a smaller one

    • UncleLou says:

      As someone who has replaced 90% of his time he spent on the PC with a tablet, I don’t believe it’s a fad for a second. In fact, were it not for gaming and the occasional photo-editing, I might as well sell my desktop PC. It’s getting more difficult to justify it, in any case.

      But then again I think the same you think about tablets about laptops, so I can at least see where you’re coming from, I guess. :)

      • reyn78 says:

        Unlikely. As an owner of all three – laptop, desktop and tablet I see laptop as the most useless. (it is a work issued model) it doesn’t have real estate of the big screen, it is not sufficient to run games, and is not as portable as a tablet.

        I would expect a slow blend of tablets and laptops (especially in the ultraportable segment) with detachable keybords etc.

        Desktops will always be there for people who game and who need raw processing power.
        There is also one factor that people tend to forget – for various reasons desktop will always give you a biggest bang for your buck.
        Just compare what can you do with a tablet for 900$, a laptop for $900 and a desktop for the same price.

        • UncleLou says:

          Yeah, desktops will not disappear. But rather than the all-rounders they used to be for years where you’d find at least on in every house-hold (partly already replaced by laptops), they will be relegated to specific purposes – like gaming. For the vast majority of people, a tablet (and be it with peripherals like a screen or an external drive in the future) will be sufficient.

          On a sidenote, I am in the same position as you: work laptop that barely gets used unless I deperately need to work while traveling, a desktop (gaming, mostly), tablet (everything else, really).

          • Brun says:

            The “all-rounders” have pretty much disappeared already. I bought a desktop for my parents a year ago (a cheap $400 one) and they had a grand total of two on display in Best Buy. Everything else was laptops and tablets.

            I don’t often see gaming PCs in retail stores, but I do see parts occasionally (especially in places like MicroCenter which have a huge parts library).

        • Barberetti says:

          “I would expect a slow blend of tablets and laptops (especially in the ultraportable segment) with detachable keybords etc.”


      • fish99 says:

        90%? So you errrr….. don’t play PC games?

        Anyway, my nexus 7 can’t hope to replace either my desktop or my laptop. It can run some casual games, play movies on a screen that’s too small to enjoy movies, and browse the web in a largely non interactive way. It can’t play ‘real’ games, it can’t do development, music production, 3dsmax, photoshop. Even typing this post would have been a PITA on it.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      I think we’ll always need the large screen real-estate of desktops, but I wouldn’t be surprised if more people start using a big screen and keyboard with a port for their tablet, many businesses are taking this apraoch.

      Laptops on the other hand will be totally redundant, someone’ll release an affordable 17″ version and it’ll be curtains for them. Sales are already struggling.

      • Jason Lefkowitz says:

        I could see the “large screen real-estate” need being met for most people by TVs, which are becoming more and more PC-ized every day. So your average person ends up with two interactive screens: the portable small screen (tablet) and the non-portable large screen (TV). Desktops still remain, but mostly as niche products for people who use their computers more for creation than consumption.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          Yeah, true. My next ‘gaming’ purchase will be a HD TV to run my PC through. Can’t imagine working from a tv screen though on documents and such, will always need my office and desk.

    • Skabooga says:

      They’ll have to pry my desktop from my cold, dead fingers if they want to take it away. And it will be a real hassle for them, because that stuff isn’t designed to be easily portable.

    • Groove says:

      The tablet fad isn’t really a fad. Even if you don’t like them and even if you don’t see them replacing any existing computers, the intuitiveness of a tablet is pretty much impossible to argue with. A touch interface is the most self-explanatory way of interacting with a computer, and a flat tablet is the easiest way to interact with a touchscreen. I’m a complete advocate of a traditional mouse and keyboard setup, but it takes a lot more getting used to than touch, and that means that touch/tablets will always have a place in the market.

      Personally I want a keyboard for any serious typing, I want a mouse for precision and speed and I want a larger screen for all sorts of reasons. I need a desktop for all of these. Tablets are casual, and that’s fine. They replace laptops in every way that doesn’t require inputting a lot of text, and for that you need the keyboard, not the laptop.

      • Bhazor says:

        No, I seriously think its a fad. No one likes typing with a touch screen, apart from anything else you end up obscuring what you’re doing with your own hands. Hence why digital artists who have been using tablets for years hook it up to a big monitor. Now companies are going to increasingly ludicrous set ups to try and attach keyboards to tablets like that weird Windows 8 where everyone dances whilst leaving their keyboard bolted to the table. A tablet isn’t anymore portable than a small laptop. You still need to carry a case with it and you’ll almost certainly be needing to take a detachable keyboard with it. I see it all the time on the train, a person sits down, takes out his iPad, takes off the case to prop it up so he can actually see it, reach into his bag, get a second case out, take out the keyboard, plug in the keyboard, put the second case away and then spend the next five minutes trying to watch the screen between his fingers as he vaguely swipes to get to the file he wanted. By that point I’ve already turned on and loaded Civ 4.

        link to

        As for ease of use, maybe it’s slightly easier to use but it doesn’t make up for the loss in precision and speed compared to touch pad and physical keyboard. I’d also argue that as a society using a mouse is as ingrained into us as using a keyboard. 5 year olds can use a mouse without difficulty.

        The one advantage I will give to tablets is battery life but that’s only a result of moving to SDD and removing disc drives.

        • FriendlyFire says:

          My Transformer says “Hi.”

          It’s not because current tablets don’t have workable keyboards, for the most part, that new tablets never will. Technology evolves bloody fast.

          I’d instantly jump on a proper x86-running laptop/tablet hybrid (detachable keyboard, touchscreen). Bonus if the screen finally gets larger than 10″.

          • Bhazor says:

            And my Aspire One (bought two years ago at half the price for the same specs as a Transformer) says “Why bother with a detachable keyboard?”. Do you often watch films while standing perfectly upright?

            Because that is the only reason I can think of that having a built in keyboard would be a disadvantage. Any other usage you’d be better using a desk or propping it on your knee.

        • UncleLou says:

          Well I happen to have an ultra-slim, ultra-light laptop with no hdd, and it is much more uncomfortable to use than a tablet in basically every situation except when positioned on a table in front of me, and even then the screen of the laptop is way too low. The tablet handles like a book, and nothing could be more intuitive than putting your finger on it.

          No, I wouldn’t want to do any serious work on it, but neither would I want to do that on the laptop.

          I don’t think there’s a way back from tablets to laptops, let alone desktops. Personally, I think they’re the opposite of a fad, namely a small revolution in how we use compuers. Tablets will only get more features and options while keeping their advantage of being ultra-portable, usable on the couch, the bed, the bathrooom, and PCs and laptops will increasingly be used only for what they were originally intended for: work where you need the screenspace and/or horsepower.

        • iucounu says:

          That’s not my iPad experience at all. I do sometimes carry around an Apple Bluetooth keyboard that is very thin and lightweight – I wrote most of a novel on it – and I can be in Pages and typing within about ten seconds of reaching into my bag.

          The total weight of my iPad, smartcover and keyboard is about 950g. That’s about a third of what my last laptop weighed, turning it from something I feel I am lugging about to something that I can actually forget I’m carrying. So I think it is *much* more portable than anything short of a netbook – and netbooks appear to have been comprehensively killed by tablets and things like the Transformer.

          • Consumatopia says:

            The trouble I have with the tablet+keyboard combo is with the keyboard being much lighter than the tablet–it would be like a laptop where the screen is heavier than the base, it’s awkward to keep in your lap.

            Still, the advantages of a tablet’s portability are probably enough to outweigh this most of the time.

          • iucounu says:

            Well, there’s the rub – it’s not really a lap-based device, because it’s two separate things, the screen and the keyboard. You can balance the two of them in your lap in such a way that you can see the screen and type, but if you’re in a situation where you can’t stand the tablet up somewhere stable you probably will prefer to use the touchscreen to type.

            It’s a great setup for me in terms of tapping things out in cafes or in other people’s offices, but not so much the Tube. But then I don’t really want to be doing serious work on the Tube, so it’s not a bother.

            The other downside is that there’s no pointing device, which is far superior for navigating and selecting text than a touchscreen – and no home/end/pg up/pg down keys either. So I don’t really like to edit on a touchscreen device.

          • Bhazor says:

            So you are saying you don’t want to type with a touch pad and need to attach a keyboard to make it tolerable?

            My Netbook weigh’s maybe 150g more true, but it cost half as much as a tablet, is far more powerful than almost any tablet I’ve seen and I bought that two years ago. If the netbook dies to be replaced with a tablet it’ll be the triumph of style over substance.

          • iucounu says:

            I’m saying I don’t want to type with a touchpad for anything more extensive than day-to-day email tasks. If I have to write a novel or something, then the wireless keyboard does (did) the job perfectly nicely.

            It’s all about the use case, obviously. Most of what I do with my tablet is media consumption and email, not word-processing or spreadsheets, which are things that I work on at home or at the office. And I think that isn’t terribly unusual.

            I do not think that the reason netbooks are dying is about style, nor do I think tablets are a fashion. It’s interesting – there’s a definite attitude out there that people only buy Apple products, to give the most obvious example, because they have been brainwashed by marketing, or are unable to tear their eyes away from the shininess. The fad argument. And though I think that has a kernel of truth to it, I think the main reason Apple gadgets do so well despite the premium price point is that they absolutely get the needs of a big slice of the market.

            (I’ve been using an iPad Mini recently and it’s an absolutely killer ereader that slots nicely into my inside coat pocket. I couldn’t really write an ebook on it, but then I wouldn’t really want to read an ebook off a netbook either.)

        • Groove says:

          I think I was a little too down on laptops, but then I’ve had almost entirely bad experiences with laptops.

          The person in your example is, I know, a real enough person. And they are a numpty. If you’re going to be sitting at a table, trying to turn your tablet into a desktop then you’d really be better off with a laptop. The advantage of the tablet is it’s use away from a workable surface, and if you’re not planning on using a keyboard with your tablet then it’s definitely more portable than a laptop. A tablet (especially the smaller, not-a-full-sized-ipad ones) are something to be held in one hand, a laptop almost always requires a surface, and without one they become unweildy. You might be able to hold a laptop or rest it on your legs, but you won’t manage that without sacrificing it’s lead in speed and accuracy (or without cooking your genitals in the case of legs).

        • cqdemal says:


          Point number one: Typing is not the only mode of content creation or interaction with data, and tablets can be much more intuitive with certain types of input. If there’s anything limiting content creation on tablets, it’s raw hardware performance (which is being tackled by Intel’s new mobile chips) and poor selection of apps (here’s looking at you, Android).

          Point two: Using a tablet with a keyboard is nowhere near as complex as what you described. There are tons of cases that double as stands with different angle settings, and the vast majority of tablet keyboards function using Bluetooth. No need to attach or detach anything. No need to remove a case. And the actual act of “getting to the file he wanted” on a tablet is actually very smooth since virtually everything is searchable, so you’re always just seconds away from what you want to do as long as you know its name.

          Point three: Touchscreens are way, way, waaaaaaaayyyyyyyy more intuitive as an undemanding input method for simple tasks. You talk about 5 year olds using mice. I’ve seen 2yo kids playing comfortably with a tablet and instantly understanding how to use it – even if they can’t understand the context of these interactions sometimes. What could be simpler than pointing and tapping? For content consumption, precision isn’t required.

          Point four: Google “Lenovo Yoga 13.” I own one of these. 1.5kg touchscreen ultrabook that runs full Windows 8, boots up in 7-8 seconds, plays a number of new games at low/medium settings and older ones a bit better, deals with general productivity work easily, AND can be turned into a (rather large and heavy) tablet if need be. There are also other “convertibles” that provide these capabilities in slightly different form factors. Compromised? Yup. But you can’t deny that the manufacturers aren’t lying that these products have the potential to really be everything in one.

          Tablets aren’t here to “replace” laptops and desktops. Their rise in popularity reflects the fact that the majority of the population needs a computer only to look at/listen to things on the screen and barely anything else. There’s nothing better than a tablet for that.

          • Consumatopia says:

            I agree with most of your points, but I’d quibble on one and three:

            1) if by tablets you mean like Surface Pro or the Lenovo model you mentioned, then yeah–of course they’re absolutely awesome for content creation. Years ago I had a tablet pc–I loved drawing on that thing. If by tablets you mean iOS devices, while they will have some content creation, it will be more because no other device is handy. And it’s not hardware or app availability holding them back, it’s the nature of touch and the design of the OS. Touch is more intuitive (see my next point), but clumsier. And iOS encourages every app to manage its own data, rather than present a common tree of files which one processes with multiple programs.

            3) They definitely are more intuitive. If this was the only advantage of touch, it’s not much of an advantage–there is no desperate need to have people between 2 and 5yo using computers. Learning how to use a mouse is a one-time very small cost. The advantage of touch is multitouch (easy zooming and scrolling) and not having to carry a mouse, stylus, or keyboard to interact with a mobile device.

      • Consumatopia says:

        Personally I want a keyboard for any serious typing, I want a mouse for precision and speed and I want a larger screen for all sorts of reasons.

        Adding a stylus to a tablet can give you even better precision (plus another degree of freedom–pressure sensitivity).

        If they ever invent a touchscreen that could detect hovering, like a mouse or wacom tablet can, then touch could give you precision too–you could activate an offset cursor mode which would show you a cursor an inch offset from your finger.

        Still, the keyboard/mouse combo would be best for text entry–the keyboard having tactile feedback, the mouse saving you from having to reach up to your screen.

        • Premium User Badge

          FhnuZoag says:

          The real problem with mouse replacement is that moving your hands over the screen necessarily obstructs the screen, and the rest position of hovering your finger over the screen takes energy to maintain.

          • Consumatopia says:

            Yeah, I guess for video games in particular obstructing the screen is a big drawback.

      • Premium User Badge

        FhnuZoag says:

        Personally, I think tablets are transitional until we get a better control system (which I’d assume will be probably AR display based). Laptops will probably stick around for longer, because their physical keyboards offer value to people who like the physicality. Desktops will stick around because corporations demand it.

    • LionsPhil says:


      The worst part is that it’s taken the term “tablet PC”, leaving me unsure what to call what used to be a tablet PC, e.g. one of these.

  12. squareking says:

    What a wonderful example of nope.

  13. Vaedresa says:

    What does this have to do with videogames?

    More and more like Kotaku, every day.

    • Enkinan says:

      The Surface Pro has a real operating system that can play PC games but also has a touch screen. This has a lot to do with videogames and how they are played.

      If it isn’t DOA which it sounds like it very well may be.

      • Vaedresa says:

        I guess RPS needs to start posting about every single laptop that’s released as well, as it’s exactly the same thing; a portable version of a PC.

        This being a tablet is irrelevant as well given that touchscreen ultrabooks have been around for years.

    • Joshua says:

      Ooh bloody hell. Kotaku is like Hitler these days, alongside Call of Duty in the addendums of Godwin’s law.

      This has to do with PC gaming since this thing uses the PC architecture. In other words, if the integrated HD4000 is fast enough (and it might actually be), you can, say, play Cities in Motion on a train.

      And if people catch up on this, we might see those AMD Apus in tablets in the future, in which case we can play Wargame: European Escalation whilst picknicking in the woods.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        Cities in Motion, played on a train. I quite love that idea. Public transportception.

        • djbriandamage says:

          I’ve always wanted to sit on a plane and simulate the flight in FSX. I’m kinda fearful of my fellow passengers alerting the air marshal, though.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      “PC gaming since 1973”
      “creates a whole new space in the market between a tablet and a gaming laptop.”

      There’s the connection. It’s a new form factor PC, this is a PC gaming website, it’s not rocket science.

      Also is it the bloody international day of whinging today? The comments sections are even more of a complainathon than usual.

    • Persus-9 says:

      You robots are so snooty! Just because you can download games directly to your brain over 7G just by thinking about it doesn’t mean you have to lord it over the rest of us. Us humans, you know the guys who designed you, still have to use external devices like this one to play our games on.

    • Skabooga says:

      Haha! The RPS home page header text has now become pure gold.

  14. cronach says:

    Keep in mind US prices don’t include tax – reason being, every state has different tax rates, etc.

  15. djbriandamage says:

    I don’t know how they came up with this 40GB number. My c:windows folder is 19GB and I’m running Win8 x64.

    25GB is not a heck of a lot of storage so this is cause for concern. Of course this only pertains to the cheapest model but it’s still a letdown. Thankfully there’s models with higher capacity, plus they all have expandable storage through MicroSD although that’s not as fast.

    Still, this thing is the most portable gaming PC ever made. That’s reason enough for me to be stoked. Plus, I love Win8 so any other version of Windows is a downgrade.

    • TormDK says:

      While I like your enthusiasm, lets keep facts as facts.

      The Surface Pro is an ultrabook, it’s not trying to be a gaming pc. The Intel HD4000 Onboard chip is decent, and can run some games on low or medium, but lets not fool ourselves into calling it a gaming PC, because it’s not – and it’s not trying to be either.

      • djbriandamage says:

        It’s more than an ultrabook because it forgoes the “book” form factor. It’s both an ultrabook and a tablet which is an incredible feat, especially as compared to all the awful swivel\fold\twist\snap hybrid form factors that preceded the Surface Pro. Of course you’ll be running modern games on low if at all, but this machine will be more than capable of playing 30 years of PC games beautifully.

    • Llewyn says:

      I assume that it will have at least a trial version of Office 2013 pre-installed, accounting for some of that additional space. No idea what the rest will be though – my Win8 install is also just under 19GB.

      • MukkyPuppy says:

        The consensus seems to be that the missing space is taken up by a recovery partition, like most other ultrabooks that lack an optical drive. Also, as Microsoft was conservative in their estimates of available disk space for the Surface RT, it’s likely that they are being conservative for the Surface Pro.

  16. oceanclub says:

    Stick a fork in it; this one’s done. At one point I held off on getting a laptop as I thought the Surface might suit my needs. Nope, not a chance.


  17. Loque says:


  18. JarinArenos says:

    Oh god, my sides, this is just priceless…

  19. WoundedBum says:

    The battery life thing doesn’t worry me too much, but the price in combination with the storage limitations make this a no buy for me. I’ll stick with my Kindle, thank you.

  20. MrStones says:

    Woah, how the hell do you manage to make a operating system that’s 45gig for a laptop with added buzzwords? Even assuming that’s including a uncompressed byte for byte back up (which is silly) it’s still unreasonably massive. Does it come with 20hrs of sample videos and HD textures for minesweeper?

    Any chance it comes in a ubuntu flavour instead, I dream of a better future :)

    • TormDK says:

      If you take a random OEM laptop right now, and check how much their space recovery partition takes up, and you pair it with the Windows installation already on the machine, I think you’d be surprised.

      It is possible to remove that recovery space where needed, but the average consumer would prefer not having to mess with disks in case something happens.

  21. jlivius says:

    I’m going to throw a 32GB microSD card into mine, which is more than enough for my pictures and documents. The rest is fine for what most people are using this for. If it’s not, there are hundreds of laptops to choose from.

    I also disagree with the idea that Windows 8 is something you “contend with” on the Surface. It’s an absolute joy using the new Windows on this tablet.

  22. Premium User Badge

    geoffreyk says:

    For a slightly more reasoned analysis of where the other space is going, see Surface Pro disk space to fall a long way short of what you’d expect – Ars Technica.

    Lest we forget, this is a full PC. Buy an ultrabook or a desktop with a 64GB or 128GB drive, and you’ll find yourself in the same place. Similarly, because it is a full PC, you can free up some of that space. I just did a fresh Win8 install on a 64GB system, and i’ve still got 40+ (real, not advertised) free gigs.

    There are plenty of reasons to question the Surface Pro for your particular application; the amount of storage required for a full-fledged desktop OS on a tablet isn’t really the most pertinent issue here.

  23. Hoaxfish says:

    On the flip-side of the same coin… Apple is going to be releasing a 128GB ipad, with all the options (LTE etc) coming in just over $900:

    link to

    I’m really having a hard time understanding who is going to buy these things that are coming in more expensive than full laptops, even straight touch-laptops (which work rather nicely with Windows 8).

    Frankly, I view them as something to have after a normal desktop/laptop for actual work, and after a smartphone for being a phone and work and portable games.

    I’d just buy a Nexus since it’s cheap as hell in comparison.

  24. konrad_ha says:

    I’ll just leave this here: link to

    • Groove says:

      This link is not a spam. Just thought I’d take one for the team there.

  25. ScubaMonster says:

    Not sure why it keeps not entering my posts, I was listing my computer build, maybe it was marked spam? But anyway, I built it for $734 and it has some pretty damn nice components. I realize tablets are smaller and anything small with tech crammed in is going to be more expensive than a desktop, but still.

    • TormDK says:

      Compare Surface Pro prices with those of regular touch enabled Ultrabooks from other manufactorers, not with your home rig you built out of bamboo.

  26. Ulaxes says:

    WHY??? I was really looking forward to this device and I also really like Win8, but come ON!
    I think I’ll wait till the thing drops in heavily price and get the 128gig version.

  27. vivlo says:

    it’s sad, cause Microsoft was seeming to do something interesting and innovative for once, and then pshh.

  28. Vagrant says:

    The Surface has been quite good at bringing out inane, dumb things, both from comment threads and from Microsoft. For MS’s part, they should have done a lot more to differentiate their ARM model vs the x64 model. 80% of people in comments seem to not understand basic computing.

    For the commentator’s part, they don’t really seem to think through any criticisms. Yes, this is more expensive than an iPad. So is a Macbook Air, so why aren’t we complaining about that? And more relevant to this news item, this is not some Surface-related issue. OEM computers have always been like this, and Microsoft has even roughly outlined what is in it, and how you can claim back the hard drive space.

    There’s 41GB already used up, but anyone who knows how to use a computer will easily be able to recover 15-20GB of that back.

  29. Christo4 says:

    I don’t understand why you guys don’t like laptops that much. I don’t own a tablet or desktop at the moment and i only own a laptop which has cost about 500 GBP or less. I use it to game regularly and i haven’t found a game that doesn’t work on high or medium at least with max FPS. The only ones that it strugles with are the ones that are more CPU intensive rather than GPU (like GTA4 or Planetside 2). Other than that it works really good with almost anything(ex: Max payne 3, Bioshock 1 and 2, Skyrim maxed, etc.). And it’s 2 years old aswell! Being a student it’s really good for me because i can use it in class, i can take it home and can game pretty well.

  30. groovychainsaw says:

    It’s not an ipad though, so you can add a 32GB SD card for about £15. Or plug in a usb 3.0 hard drive if you need more. Plus you can move 8GB for their ‘restore’ USB backup. And uninstall other stuff, cos, you know, its a PC. I don’t see a problem really. They’ve put an entire pen interface/digitiser in there as well as the touch interface, too (which they’ve kept weirdly quiet about, but that seems like a good feature to me).

    It’s a little expensive for what it is, but I’d consider it over an ipad, for sure, if i was looking for a tablet that could do work AND play pretty much all games from 4+ years ago (remember, USB ports mean a good mouse and keyboard can be used too if you like…). My GOG collection would work well on there, for example. Battery life would probably be a concern though :-).

  31. GreatGreyBeast says:

    Uh, well yeah, but who ever thought otherwise? It contains the entire full version of a desktop operating system. No miracle would ever stuff that into 10Gb or whatever, and we’ve known that from the beginning. Most people will be happy with USB sticks, and thems that really need more room for apps can get the 128Gb version.

  32. Stevostin says:

    One thing thus : will it not be possible to install what you want on it ? Considering there’s a pen here my first idea would be to remove Windows 8 and put 7 instead. Is there a way to do that ?

  33. DrGonzo says:

    Bit of a non story really. I think we all knew this would be the situation and the memory is cheaply expandable.

    The real crime is the price. Such a nice looking device (the RT is a dream to use). I wanted one a great deal but it costs a bloody fortune!

  34. Tei says:

    You can get a ChromeOS desktop for $200, format and install Linus on it, Steam, and convert it into a SteamBox.

    Microsoft must be using some really unoptimized way to store backups and clones. With Linux you can have a full fledge OS (with browser, Office, gimp and so on) in a 600MB cd-rom.

    • Naum says:

      600MB if you store it in a highest-compression read-only squashfs. ;) The squashfs tech is impressive for Live CDs, but don’t make people believe that a normally installed Ubuntu won’t take a few gigs. I do have a full Gentoo installation on a 4GB USB stick (with about 1GB still free), but that’s about as small as it gets without becoming completely unusable.

  35. Shooop says:

    Great. So the one thing Windows 8 is really suited for (mobile devices) won’t play well with it because it’s such a resource hog.

    Is there any reason to believe Win 8 isn’t as doomed as ME?

  36. trjp says:

    I read a nice piece recently about how stupid a piece of design this is – from the concept of a nice light tablet you’ve actually got a ‘backwards’ laptop (with the weight in the lid instead of in the base where it makes FAR MORE SENSE TO BE)

    I predict Surface to be a disaster – they’ll be along with something else, aimed at ‘touchable’ laptops and it will quietly disappear (Pro and RT)

    Storage is another interesting factor – it’s probably the biggest deciding factor in the ‘tablet or laptop’ argument atm. The number of people I know who could get by with just a tablet IF they actually had some decent storage space…

  37. P.Funk says:

    I think its obvious that the most exciting thing you’ll see anyone do is hack this thing an install Linux or something on it.

  38. heyincendiary says:

    I feel kind of bad for Microsoft. They just can’t seem to win.

    Listen, I worked at a Microsoft Store – kind of the retail frontline for making Surface make sense to people. We had a pretty good understanding of the product.

    Remember Surface RT? Came out in October, nobody seemed to understand what the difference was between it and Surface Pro, and it more or less sank without a trace?

    “Oh, and then there’s the price. The US version starts at an eye-watering $900, seemingly entirely missing the point of the tablet market.”

    Surface RT… WAS our “tablet”. It retailed at $499 sans Touch Cover, ran apps like any bloody tablet should, but also came with Office pre-installed, and a USB drive. All at sub-iPad price. But Microsoft was ridiculed because – and I don’t know why anybody heard “$499” and “tablet” and didn’t see this coming – it couldn’t do everything a full Windows OS could. No x86 apps, no MSI installers. Apps, like any Galaxy Tab or iPad, but with Office, to boot.

    So we have the Pro – which essentially is the same form factor and peripherals as the RT but you can run x86 programs on it. It’s a laptop in a tablet’s body, essentially. And with a 1920×1080 touch display, an i5, and 4GB of memory, the closest I could find on Newegg at a quick glance is the Asus Vivobook S400 for $700. So tack on an extra $200 for the form factor and there you go. You’ve still got expandable microSD, you’ve still got the option to hook up a flash drive or external HDD to the USB3.0.

    But that gets flooded with ire because apparently it’s more expensive than a laptop. Come on. We’re at a juncture in history where what’s a “tablet” and what’s a laptop or ultrabook is less a function of whether it has a keyboard or not and more a question of what it’s capable of doing. Outmoded sensibilities like “it’s shaped like a tablet, so it should be priced like an iPad” aren’t gonna get us anywhere. You gotta look at what the device can RUN and how it’s built, and let your price and expectations follow from there.

  39. Erithtotl says:

    There are some inaccuracies here.

    First, comparing the Surface price to ‘similarly powerful laptops’ is really not accurate. The Surface is priced to compete with the touch-ultrabook market, against devices like the Lenovo Yoga, and there the prices are comparable. The other devices in that space have bigger screens, but comparable resolution and are significantly heavier.

    As for the recovery partition, I agree this is a problem, but not just with the Surface. The recovery partition on the Lenovo Yoga eats up nearly 30-40GB but reformatting the machine frees up all that space. I think vendors need to start shipping their machines with a USB drive with the recovery info rather than forcing customers to offload this space, this is an industry wide problem not just MS.

    • Kageru says:

      … Ultrabooks aren’t really a market success story because they’re too expensive. People do not want to pay that much for a ultra-portable / companion device. They’re much more likely to go for either a real tablet if they want portability or a cheap laptop if they need more power.

      They might dominate a niche market, but that’s not what they wanted.

  40. apa says:

    Expensive, needs cryptic configuration to use full potential, bad marketing.. Sounds like a PC to me!

  41. progmeer says:

    I was seriously considering the surface months before it came out. Once they announced the price of the RT, it lost my interest. If they wanted to put a considerable dent in the iOS and Android market they should have made the price more competitive. Even the HP tablet no one wanted sold like pancakes after they dropped the price.

    • uh20 says:

      heh, i got one of those tablets, silly hp did a horrible tablet design, and then dumped their market right before it was getting good

      kinda wish they kept with their OS, as it could of prooved to be another partner against apple/microsoft who are oh-so-greedily trying to lock down tablet software

  42. ruaidhri.k says:

    every single bloody christmas my father in law and I get blind drunk and argue about the 1GB – 1000MB/1024MB war. Then we climb into the loft and look at his collection of windows floppies from the eighties and 1gb, 2.5gb and 10gb hard drives.
    sometimes we find the commodore 1541 disk drive i gave him as a joke and bring it outside to compare its size to various bricks.

    nostalgia, argumentative man-children and hard liquor do not mix.

    just sayin, for no reason other than this article reminded me of it.

  43. glocks4interns says:

    Does the price of the UK Surface RT 32GB include VAT? Because the US price x1.2 is about 20 pounds off the UK price listed.

  44. Kageru says:

    The tablet is a big brother to a mobile phone designed for casual computing, your familiar apps and content consumption. The laptop is a little brother to the desktop designed to present the same environment as a PC, able to run desktop apps and well suited to content production.

    The windows 8 tablet is a failure to understand either market. Too expensive, too heavy weight and not running the software people want on a tablet and too small and limited to be a laptop replacement even though it has the same price. This price for what is basically a netbook is nuts.

    Desktops and laptops aren’t going anywhere. But they’re a mature market and there’s little incentive to upgrade (win 8 offers nothing, intel is focused on mobile, games are held back by aging consoles). Chrome-book is selling well, the PC in the living room has potential, and tablets are exploding because lots of people only need casual computing, it’s the “hot fad” and it’s filling up a new market but assuming that curve continues growing indefinitely is foolish.

  45. Shivoa says:

    I love that ‘amazing £100 Being Not In America Tax’ because almost all of it is the sales tax that is on the sticker price in the UK and not listed in the US (where each state does things slightly differently so you couldn’t give an accurate figure and they don’t believe in things like a national insurance system for ensuring everyone has free medical aid at the point of use).

    I’ll happily pay the $720 rather than $600 knowing that my $120 is helping to fund the NHS as the tax man accepts the 20% VAT payment and will grudgingly eat the $30 additional difference between UK and US prices because it’s not all that much and these things happen (exchange rates fluctuate, companies aim for the price the market can bear and to cut under similar competition rather than the minimum possible price they can manage, shipping can be non-uniform from the place of manufacture).

    When you compare prices then you must do like for like comparisons and that means being very explicit about the 20% VAT on the sticker you see in the UK while in the US whatever sales tax rate the customer pays is hidden. The alternative is to invent evils or sound a lot like the right wing loonies who think all tax is ‘legalised theft’ and never stop complaining about it, unable to consider how their life would be if they weren’t given the luck that helped provide their wealth.

  46. soldant says:

    I find the hostility on this comments page somewhat curious given that so many other tech sites are eagerly awaiting this tablet. Ignoring the storage issue for a second (SD cards aren’t that expensive after all, though I totally agree that it’s such a significant chunk of space to lose!) devices like this represents a way to take a full x86 environment with you. If the tech develops further it might mean that your tablet plugs into a dock and becomes your desktop gaming PC. I think some of the hostility over an x86 tablet is a bit misplaced.

    This kind of thing is going up against ultrabooks primarily, which raises the question of whether an ultrabook or the x86 tablet will survive – it won’t be both. Netbooks more or less died off when tablets became popular – they were too small to comfortably type on, the Atom chipset was so woefully underpowered that they were practically useless running Windows, and for general browsing tasks a tablet was sufficient. A similar thing might be happening here, but it’s too early to tell. Arguably the choice should be between a tablet and a desktop – the laptop form factor, particularly in the low-end sector, probably doesn’t need to exist anymore since if x86 tablets take off they’ll be doing the same job anyway with a keyboard attachment like the Surface Pro has. I’m not buying a Surface Pro but it definitely does have potential, though it’s probably not being marketed very well.

    As for the Surface Pro’s battery life from what I understand it’s expected to have about half of the life of the Surface RT. In my experience with my RT I tend to get maybe 8 hours of life out of it… so I’d guess about 4 for the Surface Pro as a realistic estimate. Which isn’t bad for an ultrabook, but unacceptable if you compare it to an iPad or something. The Atom tablets get 8 hours for comparison, though the Acer W700 (similar to the Surface Pro in specs, though no microSD slot) manages 6 hours and that’s an i5 processor.

    • uh20 says:

      there are a zillion other x86 based tablets out there, all of which i consider better than this “thing” microsoft is pumping out.

      the storage space is the nail in the coffin, i never manage to go past 120gb on my computer, but 23 is too small even for me to manage.

      but to be fair, it is the only thing thats actually trying to mainstream tablet-computers right now, i just wish this operating system/hardware limbo clears up quickly, and we can all go back to good-ol cross platform development.

      • SuicideKing says:

        Better? How? Zillions of x86 tablets?

        This is, perhaps one of the most powerful tablets around, and the perhaps the only ultrabook-spec thing with such features at this price.

    • fish99 says:

      Taking a full x86 experience with you is nothing new. This is after all pretty much the same thing as having a laptop with a detachable keyboard and a touchscreen. All they’ve really done here is move the mobo, cpu, gpu, ram, storage etc from beneath the keybaord to beneath the screen.

      An actual laptop deserves the title of being a proper PC more than one of these. A laptop has a DVD drive to install all your regular games/software from, a decent keyboard, a reasonable amount of storage, the option of a dedicated GPU and genuinely decent gaming capability, loads of ports etc.

      • soldant says:

        Razer are developing a tablet with a dedicated GPU. Yes you’re right that laptops tend to have better keyboards than the Touch or Type Cover that you’d use with a Surface, though IMO they’re all pretty terrible. But a tablet is much more portable than a laptop and you can still use a keyboard. Storage and performance will continue to improve as technology progresses. Go back to when the tablet form factor first appeared with Windows XP and horrible pen controls and you’ll see that we’ve come a very long way.

        There’s nothing at all about an x86 tablet that doesn’t make it a “proper PC” if by “proper” we mean “runs x86 apps” which seems to be the common usage since the Surface RT was first announced. Also a laptop with a touch screen and a detachable keyboard effectively is a tablet, so I’m not sure what the point of mentioning that was.

        • SuicideKing says:

          Yeah that razer thing costs over $1200, and is underpowered for the price and purpose.

          • soldant says:

            That applies to pretty much any gaming laptop which will always be beaten by a desktop by a significant margin. Really, any sort of small form factor PC will offer poor gaming performance versus price when compared with a desktop. But although it’ll be overpriced and underpowered it’s still a gaming tablet, and the poster was trying to suggest that a laptop is better because they make gaming variants… which cost seven human kidneys as you pointed out.

          • SuicideKing says:

            Erm…no not really, a laptop in that price range would have no less than a GTX 660M, among other things, which often include a 1080p/1050p screen.

            But wait, i realize that…i kind of pulled off a reply fail. I think i mixed your post and his post and replied to neither and both.


            But yeah, i think the reply i’d actually post for you is:

            an x86 atom tablet can’t really qualicf to be called a PC (based on an SoC, non-ATX, etc), though you could call Celeron/Pentium/Core containing tablets tablet PCs.

            That would be more appropriate, since they’re still slightly out of spec with the original IBM PC.

            That’s how you define a proper PC: IBM-PC derivative, ATX spec derivative, RTC and 14.xx MHz (don’t remember exact value) system clock.

            I’m not sure how we’ll define this in 3 years, because i’m not sure what intel’s planned for their processors. In the sense that, will their SoC and APU (if you’d call them that, since they technically aren’t pure CPUs anymore) designs converge? Etc. So i guess we have:
            x86 Tablets
            Tablet PCs
            Hybrid PCs
            “traditional/proper/standard” PCs

            Traditional PCs include:
            Macs, which i like to call, for the sake of irony, Apple PCs.

            And laptops with detachable touchscreens don’t become tablets, they become hybrids. That’s the only appropriate name for them really. Because…well the complete package is split b/w the base and screen.

      • SuicideKing says:

        Find me equal specs for the price. Not even ultrabooks have all of this at this price point. The only thing this lacks is a decent keyboard, or at least a decently priced one.

  47. asshibbitty says:

    Everyone remember how this thing started? MS had no confidence in its OEM partners and decided to teach them a lesson in hardware design. So much for that.

  48. LeeTheAgent says:

    “Being Not In America Tax” Yeah, how’s it feel, UK? Tables are turned now, aren’t they? Tax our damned tea without representation… *grumble* *grumble*

  49. fredc says:

    I don’t see the storage space as a problem. You have sdxc (or whatever it’s called – SD card) expandability plus the ability to use external drives plus cloud storage for archives and docs – pretty much as MS has already pointed in response to press queries. I assume the size of the OS reflects it being a W8 installation with all the Metro apps in the world pre-installed. As a W8 desktop user, I don’t know if that’s a good thing, but it’s certainly appropriate to a device that is supposed to be a tablet (amongst other things?).

    If the battery life is non-existent, that would be more of an issue.

    As far as price, if the product is good I see nothing objectionable other than the usual UK consumer price jack. You don’t see the Apple-addicted masses seething with indignation at Apple’s comically high prices and shitty customer service.

  50. marsilainen says:

    I like windows 8 and do not miss 7. I also still want surface pro.