What! Windows RT hogs 16GB of Microsoft’s 32GB Surface tablet

surface rt tablet microsoft

If you thought a $500 Microsoft Surface RT with 32GB of storage was too good to be true (compared to the iPad’s 16GB for the same price) then we’re here to say you’re right. If that was your dream then you may want to start amassing memory cards because Microsoft had to use half of that 32GB for Windows RT, Microsoft Office, and other software.

Microsoft broke the news in a new post titled, “Surface disk space FAQ”, outlining exactly how much space on the Surface RT is available for apps, music, videos, and photos. According to the FAQ, the 32GB version has 16GB of free space and the 64GB version will have 46GB free. We are hoping this isn’t a universal issue for all Windows RT devices, but keep it in mind next time you read about a Windows RT device with an attractive storage size.

Another part of the FAQ explains that 32GB is actually 29GB when using it in the real world. Silly us for trusting the quoted storage sizes. Here’s the official explanation:

The advertised local disk size is shown using the decimal system, while Windows displays the disk size using the binary system. As a result, 1 GB (in decimal) appears as about 0.93 GB (in binary). The storage capacity is the same, it’s just shown differently depending on the how you measure a GB (decimal or binary).

At least Microsoft was kind enough to feature expandable memory through microSD cards that can hold up to 64GB of extra data. There’s also a standard USB port if you are in need of something in the terabyte range for a massive media collection.

Still, Microsoft routinely boasts that the Surface has double 16GB of storage when only 16GB is available to users. Windows RT has enough uncertainty surrounding it with its basically useless classic desktop and nearly empty app store. It doesn’t need this storage drama added to the mix. The Microsoft engineer quoted last month saying Surface RT users would have 20GB of space available only makes things more uneasy.

With iOS and Android optimized for mobile storage sizes, we kind of expected Windows RT to be relatively svelte in terms of gigabytes. It wouldn’t be surprising if Microsoft addressed the size of Windows RT in a future update. Perhaps it will prune it down as time passes and eventually — fingers crossed — phase out the legacy features and classic desktop altogether.

What do you think of Microsoft’s misstep? Is expandable memory enough to make up for less internal storage?