Microsoft Sued Over Paltry Surface Storage

This probably won’t come as news to anyone who has ever used Microsoft products on any computing device ever, but Windows and all of its accoutrements take up storage space. Lots of it.

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Microsoft surfaceThis probably won’t come as news to anyone who has ever used Microsoft Corp. products on any computing device ever, but Windows and all of its accoutrements take up storage space. Lots of it. This revelation was apparently too vexing to withstand for one California lawyer, who has filed suit against Microsoft for failing to disclose the magnitude of the bloatware packed onto his shiny new 32GB Surface tablet.

Atty. Andrew Sokolowski, a consumer-rights specialist in Los Angeles, complains that he quickly ran out of space when he started to save music filed and Word documents on his surface. When he poked around in the device’s Properties folder, he discovered a 32GB tablet really only has about 16GB of space available for user storage.

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He’s not wrong. Microsoft concedes that free space on the Surface RT is about half as much as advertised. The rest, Redmond officials say, is taken up by “built-in apps and by the Windows features that can help you protect and recover the stuff you store on your Surface.”

By way of comparison, Google Inc.’s 32GB Nexus 10 tablet has about 27 GB of space available right out of the box. A 64GB Apple Inc. iPad has more than 56 GB of free storage space when you fire it up.

Microsoft points out that, in addition to buying the beefier Surface RT with 64GB of built-in storage, users can add space by installing up to 64GB of microSD card memory in the back of the unit, plugging in a USB flash or hard drive, or using the 7GB of free cloud-based SkyDrive service bundled with each new surface.

Here’s how Microsoft breaks it down:

Surface with Window RT 32 GB 64 GB
Total disk size as reported by Windows 29 58
Reserved space for Windows recovery tools -5 -5
Size of hard drive reported by File Explorer 24 53
Windows RT, Microsoft Office and built-in apps -8 -8
Free space reported by File Explorer 16 45


None of that is consolation to Atty. Sokolowski, however, who filed his suit Wednesday in Superior Court in Los Angeles and is seeking class action status, according to published reports.

Word of the lawsuit comes just one day after Microsoft issued firmware updates to improve applications performance, battery life and security settings on the RT-based units. Those were just a few of the challenges facing Microsoft’s first tablet and most significant foray into self-developed hardware. A number of consumers and business users are still struggling to get their hands on the RT version, which has been on a three-week backorder since selling out Oct. 26, the very day they became generally available. Curious for a device whose sales have been described by CEO Steve Ballmer as “modest.”

Microsoft officials issued a statement late Wednesday saying the suit was groundless adding that "customers understand the operating system and pre-installed applications reside on the device's internal storage thereby reducing the total free space."

Rhett Francisco, Sokolowski's lawyer in the case, told the Associated Press that his client never saw Microsoft's storage disclaimers and said the details are "buried" on the Microsoft website.

"They make you search and dig for it specifically, or you would never find it," Francisco said.

Stay tuned. The complaints about the Surface have likely just begun.

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