Microsoft scores points over storage specs on the new Surface Pro 3 tablet

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.

Remember when the Samsung Galaxy S4 came out? Everyone, including us, marveled at the depth of functionality, and detail that Samsung had built into the device. The S4 was a huge departure from its predecessor, and it was a game changer in the flagship smartphone space.

Then, many of us were scratching our heads at the amount of space all that Samsung S-App and TouchWiz goodness took up in a 16GB device, pretty much half of the usable space, making the acquisition of a microSD card mandatory.  Of course, Samsung's semi-tactful answer to the news didn't win many hearts either.

When the Galaxy S4 went on sale, and we were treated to the “actual formatted capacity is less,” it prompted me to write a dig at all the manufacturers to be a little more forthcoming about some of the specifics of their products, reasoning that it helps everyone as well as their own bottom line.

Massive storage mark-ups

For example, we all know that $100 mark-ups for storage increases is the rip-off of the ages. 16GB and 32GB of flash memory has nowhere near a hard cost of $100, or even $50, yet a 16GB versus 32GB device will have a retail mark-up of just that. Considering that 16GB flash memory devices can be found at retail for under $5, the storage being built on a mass scale in smartphones is still a fraction of that.  That is a lot of extra change for the net profit margin.  So, yes, please say that half of a 16GB device is eaten up by the OS and programs and nod gently toward a 32GB or 64GB alternative, some people will go for it, others on a budget will not. Makes sense right?

Thing is, manufacturers do not need to be exact with these figures anyway, just give us a general heads-up. Each carrier is going to want their bits and pieces of bloatware installed, so we know there are going to be differences. For Android devices, it is more important than ever because the OS is becoming less and less friendly to secondary storage options like microSD cards.

Microsoft gives it up

While we ponder such issues with our smartphones, Microsoft earns a gold star for offering up guidance about how much storage you will have available when you decide which Surface Pro 3 to buy. As you know, Microsoft’s new tablet will be available in a variety of configurations with four storage capacity choices, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB.

Given the Surface Pro 3 is running the full Windows 8.1 Pro operating system, a significant amount of storage space is used to house all that code to enable the experience Microsoft has in mind. The good news is that while you browse the specifications for your new tablet, you are not given the stale old “formatted capacity is less” line.

With the Surface Pro 3 64GB version, the specs state clearly “greater than” 36GB available disk space. For the 128GB model, it is over 96GB, more than 211GB on the 256GB model, and over 450GB on the 512GB Surface Pro 3.

I know we are talking about a tablet that aims to replace the laptop in our lives, so the storage considerations are completely different than what we might consider in an Apple iPad, Samsung tablet, or obviously a smartphone. However, the fact that Microsoft is providing information in such a manner is a distinction from the rest of the pack, and I hope it will bring this idea to its recently acquired line of smartphones.

Information is power, information is money too

The point is that as our demands on smartphones and tablets continue to grow, particularly in developing markets, demands on storage will grow as well, both in terms of what we do with them, and with the software required to make everything work. Cloud storage, in the near term, will only take things so far with metered data plans and in some cases, congested networks, so it is not the “final solution,” yet.

The manner in which Microsoft has specified this information is a great model for other manufacturers to follow. We do not need exact numbers, but by giving us an idea of what is really inside, we will make better informed purchase decisions, especially if we want to take a lot of media with us and have it available “right now.” If that means we err on the side of more storage, that is good for us, and it is certainly good for the manufacturer’s bottom line.

Take a look at demand for the OnePlus One 64GB model.  Demand was so strong for that storage capacity, that the company swapped out its manufacturing plan, pushing back building the 16GB models and addressing the majority of orders for the larger storage device.  Considering that Cyanogen is selling these phones at cost, imagine the if the bean-counters put that in the framework of a "real" money making operation like Samsung or Apple.  This should be an easy business decision to make.

So, Apple, LG, HTC, Samsung, Sony, et al, take a page from this book. It is good information, it shows attention to detail, and it is a far better message for your customers than “formatted capacity is less.”



1. vincelongman

Posts: 5677; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

MS are also overcharging for the upgrade to the i7 Core i5-4300U, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage – $1,299 Core i7-4650U, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage – $1,549 Core i5-4300U costs $381, the Core i7-4650U costs $426, only $145 difference but MS are charging $250 And for the upgrade to i5 Core i3-4020Y, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage – $799 Core i5-4300U, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage – $999 Both the i3-4020Y and i5-4300U cost $381, MS are charging $200 for the 64GB storage increase

2. Maxwell.R

Posts: 218; Member since: Sep 20, 2012

And that has nothing to do with the article. Companies have to mark-up materials costs. In fact, the prices of the CPU are likely a lot lower than what you posted. I was building the case for manufacturers to make the effort to provide more details about their products based on the fact that it would benefit their balance sheet and better inform their customers. Companies have to make a profit in order to continue making stuff and be held accountable to their owners (shareholders).

5. vincelongman

Posts: 5677; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

What do you mean nothing to do with the article? The article is on the Pro 3 and its pricing in terms of storage My comment was about the Pro 3's pricing in terms of its CPU Also my prices are 100% correct, I got them straight from Intel's website, they were listed as "Recommended Customer Price", unless you're saying Intel charges OEM more than they charge consumers Links to Intel's site However, I'd agreed with you that the prices are quite fair since MS have to make a profit and since all their competitors are also charging the same prices

7. Maxwell.R

Posts: 218; Member since: Sep 20, 2012

The article is about the detail provided in the specs in contrast to other manufacturers. Nowhere do I mention price of the tablets. I am also saying that Intel charges OEMs *less* than those of us that would by a chip or two (or three) while building our own computer.

12. vincelongman

Posts: 5677; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Sorry, the article isn't actually about pricing, and I miss read your comment as well, my apologies

8. Reality_Check

Posts: 277; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

"The article is on the Pro 3 and its pricing in terms of storage" NO. The article is "Microsoft scores points over storage specs on the new Surface Pro 3 tablet." He is trying to say that more and more manufacturers should just specify how much storage capacity is available to the consumer on a particular model. For eg. 12.8GB on 16GB version.

14. vincelongman

Posts: 5677; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

My apologies, the article isn't actually about pricing, sorry people

16. Gawain

Posts: 437; Member since: Apr 15, 2010

You still win the Internet. ;-)

9. Gawain

Posts: 437; Member since: Apr 15, 2010

LMAO. You sir, win the Internet for the day for telling the author of the article what his article is about. That is pure winning in a fashion that not even Charlie Sheen could muster.

33. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

Maxwell thank you for this interesting article it is much better than that one about the 16 year old girl (which actually looks like 36) which stuck in a storm drain trying to rescue fallen iPhone (which later turned out to be BlackBerry - Or maybe not?!). :D

31. zigma

Posts: 11; Member since: May 30, 2014

The cooling and the battery drain is different, if you want to see over cost ask Apple 16G vs 64G, also you need 5 iPhones to have the same display resolution on the LG G3 and is more expensive.

3. JMartin22

Posts: 2369; Member since: Apr 30, 2013

The concept behind their product is good, but what's the point of spending the amount they have for the asking price when I can purchase a better Ultrabook?

4. Gawain

Posts: 437; Member since: Apr 15, 2010

I don't think that's what he was saying. He was pointing out the information provided in the specs.

6. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

I kinda agree. A normal ultrabook is the same size, but has a foldable screen which gives protection and an amazing keyboard.

13. 12Danny123

Posts: 87; Member since: Aug 18, 2012

I don't think you understand why the Surface cost for how much it is. MS out A LOT of effort into making the Surface Pro 3. especially the thinness and the material. It does deserve a premium price tag for the effort. If I were you I'll actually respect the Surface team for the hard work they done to out these specs into a device that thin.

17. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

I know. It's an amazing device. But why would I buy it over an Ultrabook? There's no reason...

19. AJagtiani

Posts: 466; Member since: Apr 24, 2014

There is a reason to buy the Surface Pro 3 over an ultrabook, as it is in fact an all around MSFT product. Also, it provides functionality of a tablet as well as a laptop. Not to mention that its far more portable than any ultrabook and more powerful as well.

24. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

Ummm... How is a "all around MSFT product" a benefit? Also, there are hybrid Ultrabooks that provide the functionality of tablets while still being excellent laptops. Far more portable? Are you gonna place it in your pocket? No. Because it's way too big for that. So you will need a bag. And that bag will also easily fit in your Ultrabook. Plus if you want even some kind of keyboard to it or protection to the display, you're gonna have to buy that cover. There goes the thinness. Plus that keyboard is not as good as full keyboards on Ultrabooks. Was that last one a joke? More powerful? Yeah. With the exact same specs, right?

37. Liveitup

Posts: 1798; Member since: Jan 07, 2014

I suggest you read this article and see what surface advantages are and why its considered a marvel of engineering.

38. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

As I said before, it's an amazing device. But there isn't really a place for it. All tablets suck. Thats one thing for sure. Of course Surface Pro is a different thing. It's a laptop, in a form of tablet. But why would I need that? Even on the surface they give you a option for a type cover. It adds a keyboard and cover for the screen. But the thing is, that the keyboard isn't as good and setting the device up is a lot slower. On an Ultrabook you flip the screen open. With Surface you flip the cover and then you have to open that kickstand too. And that kickstand might not stay on all kinds of surfaces, like on a small table in airplanes. A Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro or Lenovo X1 Carbon for example are a lot better options. Or a Sony Vaio Pro or Vaio 13A/14A, if you can still get those from somewhere.

40. pavsidhu

Posts: 214; Member since: May 20, 2014

I think it just depends on what you want, I think the Surface Pro 3 isn't for everyone, although I would love to get my hands on one.

43. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

The GPU sucks

42. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

Sony Vaio Pro looks to die for

49. makar

Posts: 7; Member since: Mar 11, 2014

Lenovo Think Pad Helix 1700euro...Intel Core i5-3317U 1.7 GHz that more expensive than SurfacePro 3...the i7... and Sony Vaio Duo 13 with i7 is the same price in here with Surface Pro 3 i7...maybe more expensive than SurfacePro 3...

50. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

#38 last part

46. Whodaboss

Posts: 176; Member since: Nov 18, 2011

@Artsim98 You don't! It's your money buy what you think is best for you! If you don't think the Surface is for you then that's great. Read the reviews and make up your own mind. Or go visit Best Buy or a Microsoft store and see for yourself. I haven't read one article on the web or Microsoft saying you "will" buy our product. This device is clearly on my radar. It's slim, runs x86 programs as well as apps, and very portable. If you think an Ultrabook is more to your style buy it and be happy with it. It's simple as that. If you're older than 18 then you should be formulating your own thoughts on what's good for you and not be swayed by any commercial or review.

47. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

Actually I'm not 18 yet xD. Still, I have strong thoughts/opinions. Yeah the Surface is beautiful. I love the looks. I love the features. But ultrabooks are just better for me. Anyway, it's just as you said. For some, Surface is better.

10. greatoneiw

Posts: 41; Member since: Apr 08, 2014

this article is dumb ! there haven't been any article about apple's overpriced tag for almost 6 years and this suddenly pops up ? + you missed the corei 7 cpu price !

11. Gawain

Posts: 437; Member since: Apr 15, 2010

Oh look!! Another person that didn't read the article... I need off this planet.

20. Reality_Check

Posts: 277; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

Please read the article carefully before posting "this article is dumb !" -_-

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