Microsoft Is Being Sued Over The Space (Or Lack Thereof) On The Surface RT

So it's a bit odd that the 32GB Surface actually only turns up with 16GB of space, because Windows RT takes up half of it, but suing Microsoft? Really? Why don’t you just stick an SD in there and call it a day? What’s wrong with you?

A lawyer, from California, took offence to the fact that he quickly filled up his 32GB Surface because of the limited space. Despite Microsoft actually stating the free space in the fine print on its site, Andrew Sokolowski insists that he’s been swindled, and not only wants Microsoft to change its adverts, but damages as well.

Oh, what a litigation-happy world we live in. This is yet another reason why we can’t have nice things. [AP]

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    Talk about retarded things to do...
    I suspect ol' MS will hand him his arse.. and a legal bill.

      The ACCC needs to take MS to the Courts over this. There is no difference between this matter and the one with Apple advertising "4G". Most people are mature enough to know that some of the storage on the mobile device that they buy is used by the OS and most are mature enough to know that the OS on a laptop or desktop will take a fair amount of room - but 50% on a tablet, that's insane! The problem is MS, not the purchasers. I do hope that the ACCC takes-on MS.

        The difference is that, with 4G - it didnt exist at all, not even a bit.

        With the surface, you get about 20GB (not 16GB) free, plus the ability to put in a 64GB SD card as well.

        The reason the space is taken up, by the way, is through Office (which you can remove for some space), pre-installed apps (which you can un-install) and some other crap around the sides, like pre-installed themes, sounds etc, all of which you can remove.

          You forgot the OS ... Yes even OS can be un-installed.. then you get the whole 32 gigs.

        No where did Microsoft say you have 32GB of Useable storage... The Surface comes with '32GB Storage' which is true, the flash card on the unit holds 32GB of data

        Its no difference from PC oem's supplying 500GB HDD space and filling it with drivers, recovery partitions, software etc...

        At least MS allows storage expansion...

        MS may be in the right, from a legal point of view, they mentioned it in the fine print. Well yeah that may satisfy legal requirements, for the sake of it all. but there is also a general expectation from what one is buying, and that cant just be brushed aside. advertising 32gb is obviously misleading, so what if they mentioned it in SMALL FONTS (no less!). This is one customer who is taking action (probably also cause he is a familiar with legal systems, plus alot of other reasons, publicity, etc etc, so it also kinda makes sense that ways) but again, this is ONE guy taking action. I am sure majority of the customers (if not all) would have missed that fine print. and been disappointed. No review i read so far mentioned this issue of memory hoarding by the OS. So what that there is an SD slot (a great thing for tabs indeed), the SD slot is a separate thing, its now part of the - no one told us we had to buy an additional sd card cause 15-20gb would be gobbled up, UNLESS they are providing sd cards along with the product itself.... also, memory is not a side dish, its part of the main coarse

        Last edited 19/11/12 4:27 pm


    It is a little disappointing getting a 32GB device home to find you only have access to half that.

      This. If I'm told I have a 2TB HDD and only get 1.8TB, that's kind of fair enough as 2 trillion bytes formats differently in recursive blocks of 1024. However a device with a certain advertised space which can NEVER be made usable kind of rubs me the wrong way.

        BS. Show me the add where it is stated that there is 32GB of usable space? There is nothing different between this and buying a laptop or PC with a 300GB HDD and having space taken up with the OS, Drivers, other programs and such.

          You do realise that what you're saying that 150GB of "OS, drivers, other programs and such" would be acceptable. Is that really what you mean?

          Also, you're ignoring the fact that on an ordinary laptop the user can do what they please with that 300GB HDD - reformat to use a different OS, even take it out and put it in a caddy to use as external storage. So in any case the comparison is invalid as you can't do that with Surface.

          I'm not saying there has to be exactly 32GB free space. I'm saying that there's a point at which it becomes disingenuous to quote a capacity which the user can NEVER actually make use of.

      I got my shiny new 128Gb laptop home, only to find out it had barely 50Gb of available space. So what? I just wiped it and started again. Windows takes up less than 30Gb, including the page file, which leaves me about 73Gb. (Even a newly formatted 128Gb drive only has 113Gb of actual space.)

    HAHAHA A lawyer that didn't read the fine print. I bet he must be good at his job.

      I reckon hey - but unfortunatly I can also see this as being a point made by the prosecution, where by if an experienced lawyer doesn't read said fine-print or even other product details and feels like he's "swindled", what luck does Joe-average have in regard to the same information.. The legal battle begins.

        So then it comes down to all fine print is useless as no one reads it. Yay the end of legal disclaimers!

      What's the bet that he DID read the fine print and thought "I'll go out and buy a surface just so I have standing to sue on this"

    I dunno - it seems pretty misleading to me. People pay a premium for that storage.

      Then why did this person not buy the 64GB version? It was obvious to be that 32GB would not satisfy my needs so I bought the 64GB version. Just another case of caveat emptor, I think.

    I think it IS a bit rich to say it's 32GB and only getting half. Because, the 32GB isn't there for you to do anything you want with it. You can't format the disk and get the 32GB, you can't use it to stick some other OS on. I think with portable devices, the capacity listed should be the capacity you can actually use.

      The same is true of any computing device. I don't think I ever had more than about 11Gb of available space on my 16Gb phone from the day I got it. OS X takes up about 25Gb on the MacPros at work, about the same as Windows. And remember, it is MS who have released the info on how the storage is allocated, its not like they are being cagey about it.

        Would you have been OK with it if your 16GB phone had only had 8GB of free space?

          Sure. It still has about 4Gb free on it anyway. But it is a very different situation with my phone, because I have no way of expanding it. With Surface, I can triple the storage for less than $50, so it is even less of an issue. And anyone with a Windows PC knows how much space Windows takes up anyway. If anything, users should be surprised there is as much space as there is - I can't shrink the Windows partition on my laptop to less than 60Gb.

      Actually, you probably can format the disk if you want, from a USB Flash drive set up as a boot disk. (This is pure speculation on my part, I have no idea if that is possible or not.) Of course, you'd still need an OS to run the thing and that OS needs to be STORED somewhere. Would this idiot like his OS stored on SkyDrive? I imagine you could also get rid of the recovery partition if you didn't want to use it, which would free up another 8Gb or so, I believe.

      Which is correct to a point, but at the same time, what is the acceptable OS to hard drive space ratio?

      What's the footprint of android nowadays? I can't imagine there is a lot of free space on the nexus 4.

      How about buying a really fast car, then being told you're only allowed to go a maximum of 110km/h... Is it the same thing?.. I mean, it's all just a technological requirement that some of the space is used, and should be accepted as such. How else are they supposed to market it? A more relative example may be, I'm renting a unit with a wardrobe... But they didn't tell me it's only half a wardrobe because the hot water system is in part of it. The real estate stole half my storage space and need to be sued.

        I think a better car analogy would be if they advertise a car has x m3 space/capacity; and when you buy it you realize the engine, boot and var. electronics taking up half of that; I'd feel ripped off.

        But back to the gadget, at least that explains why there is no 16GB model ;)

          I'm bad when comparing things... You raise a good point with the lack of 16GB model, when I first heard of that I figured Microsoft realized 16GB isn't that much these days. I'm also a bit confused, I'm doing some research on Embedded Windows and cant figure out why MS didn't just load the core os onto separate ROM.

    "Why don’t you just stick an SD in there and call it a day?"
    Good on him I say. If it states that you get 32Gb then you should at least get close to that! Fair enough SD cards are cheap but that's not the point, is it.!

      I think this depends on whether it had said 32g storage space versus a 32gb ssd
      like how theyve always been with laptops

        From the Surface Specs page at -
        32GB*, 64GB
        *1GB = 1 billion bytes; formatted storage capacity may be less"

        Nowhere does it say that all that space is available to the user and no other vendor gives you any indication of available space, either. It's storage and it stores your OS, your recovery data and your apps as well as the stuff you put on it yourself. It's like buying a fully stocked kitchen and complaining that all your cupboards are full of appliances and food.

          That's a poor analogy. If you buy a fully-stocked kitchen, you know that most of the cupboards are there for appliances. You expect all that space to be filled up with appliances.

          But you don't expect your computer or smartphone to be at only HALF its advertised capacity...

            When your smartphone or computer gets value added with software... I think its safe to assume you will get less,

            Not to mention Phones and computers have to have recovery partitions and all...

      Timmahh, learn to read the fine print.
      The lawyer didn't and he looks foolish, but you ......

        But me what... I don't give a toss about the fine print and most people just ignore it.!!

    Anybody else having issues with the edit and reply function with LH and Giz comments.. ?

      Not really. I've had a lot of comments/replies moderated though.
      If an error/glitch is gonna happen it usually happens to me too..
      Like your stance on this too, good to agree for a change :-)

    This is a bit extreme. But I do believe any product should have the actual available space in the main description. It's not like they can plead ignorance 'Oh, so turns out the OS & system info takes up a half of the storage? Dang do we look silly calling it a 32GB'.
    It's like if they measured a TV including the border as well & said that's what size the screen is. It isn't, it comes with some missing & you can't fix it.

      Also, it's similar to renting a 4 bedroom home, you go to move in after buying & it turns out the owner has 2 rooms full of junk you can't touch. So now you've only got a 2 bedroom house. Not really fair is it? Fine print or no.

    Normally I'd snicker at these types of class action law suits, but this time I'm afraid I'd have to agree somewhat on this one. Buying a V8 only to realise I can only use 4 of those 8 cylinders would suck, fine print or not.

      Ah yes, but the car dealer tells you we've turned off 4 cylinders, do you still want to buy it, hell yes you say. Then you get home and whine, I can't use the other 4 cylinders.... but you where told.
      Who's the fool?

        Where are you told by a dealer? Fine print in 120 pages of terms and conditions isn't the same as a guy in a cheap suit directly asking you. I think that's what then peeps are peeved about

        Actually, you're not told that at all. All you're told is "GB = 1 billion bytes; formatted storage capacity may be less."
        This generally means "you'll lose some space because 1024 is not 1000", not "you'll lose half the advertised space because our OS is huge"

    So when you by a 2 TB computer Mac or PC do you expect it to have 2TB free space when you receive it with an OS. On the other hand 16GB for the Windows RT OS seems a bit excessive but I didn't make it so I cant really judge. Maybe they could option DOS 6.22, if I remember correctly it only takes up 0.006GB and you get QBasic as well. Woo Hooo!

    Having only half the advertised storage available isn't acceptable. Suing over it seems like a dick move though. If it were me, I'd be happy if I could return it for a refund. Damages for running out of storage is the epitome of first world problems.

      Yeah, absolutely right. If you're not happy, return it and demand a refund. If they refuse to give you a refund, then take further action.

      This is definitely the better solution to the problem. Maybe he tried that already?

    It does seem misleading, especially when Microsoft knows that 16GB is definitely not going to be useable.

    2-4GB lost is fine, but 50% of the advertised spacing? Tsk tsk.

    How about, they give you a clean 32 GB device (nothing installed), then give you the disks to install the operating system.

    Don't be retards. It can kill.

    You are all overlooking the problem.
    If they made a 64GB and a 128GB only then they would not have had this problem.

      or if they made a 32gb model, like they have, and just called it a 16gig model. that would have saved them all this trouble, negative press, and earned some good will cause they would actually be able to give 16gb (probably a bit more), which would put them in a better standing with pleasantly surprised and satisfied customers.

    end of the day, ALL companies are doing this same thing.
    my 16GB iphone only has 12 or so gb of usable room.
    my 120gb SSD on my laptop, has windows installed, and is much less than 120gb
    my various hard drives, NONE of them show up their full amount of room once formatted.

    Why couldn't MS install the OS on one partition and leave 28GB space left on another partition? Even my S2 has its own flash storage for Android and seperate storage for everything else.

    I'm with the plaintiff. Eff the fine print - a tablet should have the amount of space available to the user that is advertised and not include that used by the OS. "Hey my device has 3 TB (the memory is on the SD cards the case was made with and not connected to anything.)"

      So if there is an update and the device loses or gains 500mb due to the OS, should the OEM have to refund some money to a client? Or should the client have to pay more money for their extra space?

    the device DOES have 32gb of space though, fair enough a chunk is being used, BUT it DOES have the 32gb...

    mind you, my car maxxes at 280 km/h (limiter disabled) do i go and sue my manafacturer saying i can't use all that speed?
    this case is stupid...

    This is more than a fair action to take. Why would you advertise your product as 32GB knowing full well that half of it is never going to be usable (without voiding the warranty) except to drive up the price/sales?

      cuz it actually has a 32GB SSD under the hood?

        if someone sold you a tablet, and the specs said 32gb under the hood, how much memory would you expect/assume would be usable, cause you will weigh that against your need for memory, right. in this instance, what you would expect, is different from what you get by an 'unreasonable' amount

          Well the last thing I would guess it the 32gb under the hood was the memory, would be a very expensive tablet...

    We should all get together and form a class action to sue Apple. My iPhone 4 only has 13GB available for me to put stuff on and it says on the box it's a 16GB device.
    Sure it's not as extreme as the Surface example but it's the same story.

      Count me in!
      Who else will come with us??

      if someone sold you a tablet, and the specs said 32gb under the hood, how much memory would you expect/assume would be usable, cause you will weigh that against your need for memory, right. in this instance, what you would expect, is different from what you get by an 'unreasonable' amount, in other words - the amount of usable memory for this tab is not in line with what we would expect from other mobile devices, the iphone or any phone or tab etc, hence it appears to be misleading

    And this is why morons shouldn't be allowed to use technology.
    They need to start giving phones/tablets to people blank and attache a note "Work it out idiot or stop complaining".

    Last edited 19/11/12 2:09 pm

    Really though, 16gb for the OS on an arm device? Cmon Microsoft, try optimising it at least a little bit.

    If 50% is inexcusable how is 10%. Sure it's easier to be living with but it's hardly a crime to create software that uses a large amount of space. It is impossible to draw a line in the HDD and say alright it's okay if this much of the advertised space is used for OS and preinstalled software.

    If you're not happy with Microsoft's product then just goddamn return it or don't buy it in the first place. Some yanks think it's their god given right to sue anyone for anything that disrupts their "perfect" lives.

      23.1% is the precise breaking point. 23.11% and you have used too much space. Microsoft has obviously broken this rule. Hence why everyone is bitching.

    I understand that they never come with the exact amount as on the box but that's a lot 16gb out of 32gb I'd be pretty angry to

    Business is slow for him?
    What if he decides to load it up with 'nix? Then he'd have that space.

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