Looking Under the Surface and Filing Suit Against Microsoft

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Looking Under the Surface and Filing Suit Against Microsoft

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You may recall in my piece about Microsoft Surface being mission impossible, I said the following:

As many predicted, it will be $499 for a 32 GB version which is the same price as the 16 GB iPad. Before you get very excited about all the spare memory you will have, it is worth considering the Microsoft Windows RT could require a great deal more space than Apple’s iOS.

Microsoft has been famous since its early days for writing what some call “bloated code.” Many (including me) credit the rapid pace of upgrades in hardware as a direct result of the non-optimized code Redmond continues to pump out. Case in point, many old desktop PCs which were obsolete as Windows machines many years back are chugging along just fine as Linux servers in TMC’s labs and production environment!

But now the situation has escalated as the lawyers have gotten involved. Andrew Sokolowski purchased a Surface with 32 gigabytes of storage. After adding in music and Word documents, he found he ran out of space. In fact, about half of the 32GB storage space was taken up by an operating system and pre-installed apps, the lawyer claims.

Again, this isn’t much of a surprise to those of us who have been in this space for a while.

Having said that, I am by no means a Microsoft hater and I am extremely excited about the prospect of Windows 8 tablets being very useful business tools. We have one coming in to TMC soon and I look forward to beating it up a bit to see what it can do. Areas of solid differentiation as compared to Apple is the ability to run Flash and not having to deal with stripped down websites which auto-default to mobile sites which zap your productivity. Then there is the ability to easily hyperlink a term via iOS apps and the native OS. Finally, there are times when running native Windows apps and using a mouse can come in quite handy.

George Ou has a great counterpoint worth reading. Here is an excerpt:

One way to look at it is that Windows tablets have excessive overhead in operating system and application storage usage. Another way to look at it is that Microsoft didn't have to bundle applications such as Microsoft Office 2013 -- and users will use up that storage anyway if they buy Office and other applications afterward.

Then there's the even larger point that Windows tablets don't gouge users on storage expansion like the iPad or Google Nexus tablets do. To add 16 GB or 48 GB of storage to an iPad, customers must choose up front to pay an additional $100 or $200. To add 16 GB of storage to the Google Nexus 10, customers must decide up front if they want to pay an extra $100. Once these tablets are purchased, there is no practical way to add storage.

Windows tablets like the Microsoft Surface also offer additional up-front storage for $100 per 32 GBs, but customers can decline and add their own flash storage later via microSD cards for very little money. A quick search online reveals that 64 GBs of microSD storage costs as little as $60 which is a fraction of the premium Apple charges for 64 GB in an iPad. The total available internal storage in a Windows tablet is also much greater than an iPad despite the additional storage used by the Windows OS and applications and at a much lower price.

If there's a scandal here it's not the overhead in Microsoft's tablets. It's Apple's greedy treatment of its customers by refusing to support microSD in its devices. 


Update: James A. Martin has the opposite take and supports the lawsuit... Here is an excerpt:

And yet, I was truly surprised when, a day or so after buying a 33GB Surface RT tablet last week, I discovered only 16GB of its storage was actually available to me. Seriously?Only half?

Microsoft’s Surface RT specs page states the tablet is available in 32GB and 64GB capacities, and that “formatted storage capacity may be less.” You must visit thisSurface disk space FAQ page to get the whole story, which states that the 32GB gives users “approximately 16GB free hard disk space” while those who buy the 64GB Surface will actually get about 45GB of space to use.

To its credit, Microsoft details on the FAQ page what happened to the MIA storage. For example, for the 32GB Surface RT, the total disk size as reported by Windows is 29GB. Microsoft goes on to explain this in a footnote: “The advertised local disk size is shown using the decimal system, while Windows displays the disk size using the binary system. As a result, 1GB (in decimal) appears as about 0.93GB (in binary). The storage capacity is the same, it's just shown differently depending on the how you measure a GB (decimal or binary).”

That certainly clears everything up, doesn’t it?



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