Microsoft Surface Pro’s Available Internal Memory May Not be Sufficient for Practical Use by Many Lawyers

As the February 9, 2013 launch date for the Microsoft Surface Pro tablet rapidly approaches, I was disappointed by some news that has “surfaced” regarding the adequacy of the tablet’s internal memory.  Microsoft has reportedly provided a statement to the tech website Softpedia, indicating that the Surface Pro’s operating system and preinstalled applications use a considerable amount of the available memory, especially in the 64MB version.  This means that there are surprising limitations on the volume of additional applications and data that can be stored on the device.

The Surface Pro comes in two models based on memory capacity; 64 GB($899.00) and 128 GB ($999.00).    While this seems adequate at first glance, we learned today that the operating system and preinstalled applications alone use up an astonishing 46 GB of memory in the 128 GB model.  Extrapolating these figures to the 64 GB model, only a miserly 19 GB of internal memory is available for all of the user’s data and other applications.   This is not trivial because MS Office 2013 Professional (Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote– $377.00) is not included with the starter applications and alone requires another 3 GB of hard-drive memory.  The remaining 16 GB for the 64 GB version will not be sufficient memory to allow most lawyers to rely upon this version of the tablet as their primary computer.  While the Surface Pro does come with a 3.0 USB outlet allowing for the addition of an external drive, an SDXC card reader allowing for up to 128 GB  ($160.00) in additional removable data storage, and access to a 7 GB cloud storage service, adequate on board internal memory is still needed to accommodate the typical applications relied upon by lawyers, e.g., case and litigation management software, MS Office suite, timekeeping applications, dictation programs, etc.  This does not even consider the additional memory requirements for those tablets that need to be integrated into an enterprise system.

The 128 GB model has available memory of 83 GB, which when compared to most tablets on the market seems generous. However, these other tablets don’t claim to be full capability replacements for your main computer as Microsoft does for the Surface Pro.   When the Surface Pro is compared to run of the mill laptops with internal memory capacities of 250 GB to 1 TB, its limited memory capacity is at the very low end.    Couple this with the disappointing 4 hour battery life previously reported and the Surface Pro appears to be shaping up as a poor fit for most busy lawyers.

The price for a reasonably equipped Surface Pro is also quite high.  If you order the 128 GB version with the keyboard that will set you back almost $1200.00.  Add the MS Office 13 Professional suite and you are up to approximately $1600.00.   If you want to order high capacity SDXC memory cards, 128 GB cards will set you back another $160.00 each.  Bottom line– you are looking at spending around $1800.00 to bring the MS Surface Pro to relative parity with a $800.00 laptop  ($500.00 for the hardware).  At this pricing level, it is highly questionable whether the MS Surface will make economic sense for most lawyers.


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