The Microsoft Surface Pro, big on features, short on memory

The Microsoft Surface Pro, big on features, short on memory

Such a memory shortfall could deter potential custmers when the long-awaited tablet PCs launch in North America on February 9, especially as the base model will cost $900, but at least this time, the news of this advertised-versus-real-memory shortfall has come to light before the devices rolled out.

In November 2012, a week after the official launch of the Microsoft Surface RT, the Surface Pro's baby brother, news came to light that the Windows RT operating system occupied 16GB of memory meaning that early adopters of the 32GB model were left with only 16GB of free space for apps and content. On that occasion, the figures were initially buried away on Microsoft's website until tech blogs bought this shortfall to wider public attention.

On this occasion, however, Microsoft has responded quickly with the following official statement: "The 128GB version of Surface Pro has 83GB of free storage out of the box. The 64GB version of Surface Pro has 23GB of free storage out of the box. Of course, Surface Pro has a USB 3.0 port for connectivity with almost limitless storage options, including external hard drives and USB flash drives. Surface also comes pre-loaded with SkyDrive, allowing you to store up to 7GB of content in the cloud for free. The device also includes a microSDXC card slot that lets you store up to 64GB of additional content to your device. Customers can also free up additional storage space by creating a backup bootable USB and deleting the recovery partition."

All good advice, but for applications and software to function on a Surface Pro, or any tablet or PC, it must be installed on the device's primary drive. So while rich content files such as HD video clips can be stored remotely or saved to an SD card, a video editing application, for example, cannot be.

The Surface Pro is one of the most highly anticipated product launches of 2013 as its success or failure could decide the future of the PC and therefore the livelihoods of its manufacturers.

Initial reports and reviews all say the same thing -- that it is wonderful to use and expertly combines the portability of a tablet with the power of a notebook, but that on test models at least, this extra processing power puts a heavy strain on the battery.