Microsoft has defended Surface Pro's reduced storage space due to the installation of the OS and software, as well as its short battery life.
It was recently revealed that the 128 GB Surface Pro variant will offer 83 GB of available storage space for users, with Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system and pre-installed software accounting for around 45 GB of internal storage. For the 64 GB model, meanwhile, 23 GB of storage will be left free.
Panos Panay, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President for Surface, said the reduced storage space is necessary, with the tablet’s microSDXC support referred to as a solution for users looking for more storage space.
We designed Surface Pro (and the allocation of disk space on our systems) to have the power of full Windows 8, the ability to have a simplified and fast upgrade to full Office and the confidence of a recovery image already available on your device. Beyond the flexibility and confidence this provides, we also include an ability to extend your storage via microSDXC, USB 3.0 and SkyDrive (including 7GB of free storage). Initial reports out regarding available disk space were conservative (eg. 23GB available on 64GB and 83GB available on the 128GB system), however our final production units are coming in with ~6-7GB additional free space.
Available disk space is a design choice and a tough one to make as an engineering team. It is a clear set of tradeoffs to provide the customer more space while providing them the tools out of the box. We created a simple disk image with only a few critical applications out of the box installed to provide choice. There has also been questions about why including the recovery image by default. Ideally, you will never need your recovery image, however this is a choice we would prefer the customer to make vs. having the customer need the recovery image not realizing they needed to create one themselves.
We decided to ship a Pro 64GB sku as it provides full windows 8 and enough storage for a number of large application installs such as games, productivity apps etc. which usually run in the multiple GBs. It also provides you flexibility to extend storage should you need. If you plan to carry more personal items with you locally, our 128GB may be the better option for you.
Microsoft faced similar backlash with the 32 GB Surface RT model as it left users with 16 GB of storage due to the installation of Windows RT and apps. The software giant was subsequently sued for allegedly falsely advertising the amount of storage space. That said, it clearly depicts exactly how much space will be taken on its website.
Elsewhere, outlets have reported that a single charge with moderate use sees Surface offering between 4 and 4.5 hours of performance, while others have reported battery life in the mid to high three-hour range. Responding to the short battery life in his Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), Panay explained:
The product was designed to take full advantage of Windows 8 coupled with the Ivy Bridge core processor from Intel. We created a product that did not compromise speed, performance in any way. With that, we wanted to be the best notebook/laptop product in its class, but still deliver you the tablet form factor. This product is optimized in every way to take advantage of the full third generation core i5 it runs, yet give the best battery life.
If you compare it to say a MacBook Air, you will quickly see that pound for pound in battery size vs battery life, you will find optimizations that puts Surface best in its class. That said we picked a smaller battery to be sure we were able to give you the same performance and to keep it thin. This kept the weight under 2lbs, and still kept it thin enough to take advantage of our great Windows work for inking and give you a great inking experience (like pressure sensitive inking, ability to do kanji, great sketching).
The Surface Pro launches on February 9, with prices starting at $899 for the 64 GB model without a Touch Cover or Type Cover keyboard accessory. As for its premium price tag, Panay said:
"Surface Pro is perfect for the person that wants a MacBook Air and an iPad, but doesn’t want the weight or hassle of both devices. We didn’t skimp on the performance you need to run a business but gave it to you in a very portable package."