On Tuesday, Microsoft lays down the gauntlets for those who might have wanted a Surface Pro with disappointing usable storage space. The blogosphere was set ablaze by the news.
When was the last time a Windows machine came with anything less than 120 GB minimum? I purchased a netbook from years prior that came with a 320 GB hard drive, and that cost me $299. Downgrading to 64 GB is a fairly new phenomenon affected by smaller devices. Why should people be surprised by the botched down available space?
But I bring good news. Lets break down the storage space usage in Windows and see how you might actually get more than what Microsoft conservatively announced. After all, someone sued Microsoft for false advertising with its Surface RT storage. Jump pass the break for the total breakdown.
First of all, let’s get the marketing scheme out of the way. 64 GB advertisement is really just 64 billion bits. That converts to about 59 GB of actually storage space. So there goes 5 GB, thanks marketing!
8 GB for OS. Windows 8 64-bit in comparison is roughly the same size as Mac OSX Mountain Lion, so about 8GB for the OS. If you go with 32bit version, Windows 8 is reduced to about 5 GB. But nobody uses the RAM-limited 32-bit version anymore. This is a permanent requirement.
~8 GB for legacy. Windows is all about legacy compatibility. You can have Windows 8 and still be able to run that nostalgic 16-bit games or programs from 25 years ago. But that does come at a cost, about 8 GB worth of it. Windows management will download and store — as time goes on — all the compatibility DLL files in a subfolder of Windows named WinSxS. This is also a permanent requirement.
~8 GB recovery partition. As announced by Microsoft, there will be a recovery partition. Mac OS X handles this problem by downloading the recovery files from Apple’s server. Why doesn’t Microsoft do the same? People might not have the time or internet connection to download a 8 GB recovery file. In any case, this partition is not a permanent requirement and can be backed up to a microSD with the tool included in Windows 8.
4 GB for installed apps. Microsoft mentioned the Surface Pro will come with pre-installed apps. Office suit is a likely contender. Still, Office is only worth about 3 GB for the 64bit version installed. The other 1 GB are from the metro apps like Xbox Music, Movies, and various Bing apps. This is not a permanent requirement and pre-installed apps can be uninstall by the user.
~4 GB pagefile.sys. Paging is a memory-management system that spreads out data between RAM and the pagefile. This is useful for a system with low RAM. The Surface Pro will come with 4 GB of RAM, so the pagefile size might actually be smaller. This is a semi-permanent requirement.
4 GB hibernation.sys. Hibernation function is likely to be enabled by default in the Surface Pro. This function saves the current state of the PC before a system shutdown. It must match the size of RAM, thus it can be up to 4 GB in size. This is not a permanent requirement.
Finally, if you tally up all the above you’ll get 36 GB of occupied space! Subtract that from 59 GB and you’ll get 23 GB of left over space. However, the numbers above are highly over calculated. The pagefile on my Windows 8 laptop never gets above 1.8GB, and that’s managed by the system. You can manually change the amount or turn this feature off to save 4 GB of space. Although turning off the pagefile is not advised.
The hibernation function can also be turned off as well. Windows 8 with an SSD boots up in lightning speed, thus the benefit of hibernation is not all that valuable. Another 4 GB saved.
So theoretically, the 64 GB Surface Pro might only need about 18 GB to function properly. You can have up to 41GB of free space! But only if you back up the recovery partition to a separate microSD, uninstall some pre-loaded apps, and turn of the hibernation function.
I personally would follow the above steps to get some space back, but you well know that 64 GB is still not enough space for cat videos!