This is a seriously impressive bit of Sherlock Holmes-like detective work from the oft-mentioned Ed Bott, in a field not generally known for gumshoe mysteries, high tech.
Microsoft has taken a lot of slams the past week for a "controversy" surrounding how much less "available disk space" their is on their new Surface Pro tablet than advertised. The 64 GB model provides 23 GB of free space, while the 128 GB model has only 83 GB. Needless-to-say, this has brought about cries of shock, horror and outrage by some.
What Ed Bott does in his ZDnet article is what few people could -- or would. He actually analyzes the issue, does so honestly and openly, and makes a fair comparison. And ultimately he comes to some surprising (if not startling) results. The heart of his conclusion is that the outrage is deeply unfair, and in some cases dishonest.
(The reason I'm addressing this is several-fold. I think it's an interesting issue. And also an important issue if you're thinking of buying competing products. And I also think the Surface/tablet discussion is a notable one that has critical implications over the next few years. But mainly, I'm just in awe of such impressive detective work in any field of journalism, let alone the tech world.)
The article is long and reasonably easy for mortal humans to follow at the start, though it is long (or comprehensive, depending on your point-of-view) and eventually gets techie. But as a service to you, Elisberg Industries provides a very short version.
1. Ed says that the Surface Pro should be compared to the MacBook Air 11, not an iPad. It's a full PC, not a limited, lighter "tablet only." And therefore has very different demands on its system and requirements. As a result, that's why other comparisons are unfair at best -- or in some cases knowingly dishonest.
2. The Surface Pro 128 GB and MacBook Air 11 128 GB are the best apples-to-apples comparison (no pun intended). And on the surface (okay, again, no pun intended, honest...), when you do all the numbers, you find that, in fact, they have almost identical available disk space! Despite no outrage about the MacBook Air.
3. One reason for confusion is that Apple now reports disk size differently than Windows. They acknowledge (and Ed quotes the acknowledgement on Apple's own website, because he figures you wouldn't believe it otherwise) that what you get is actually less than advertised. On the other hand, Microsoft announces full disk size.
4. Using the above information, Ed formatted a 1 TB drive with Windows 8 and then formatted the same drive with Apple's Snow Leopard operating system. The latter reported that the physical drive was 60 GB larger than with Windows 8. But it was the exact same drive.
5. The Surface Pro includes pre-installed "recovery software." If you remove this (and make a separate recovery disk) -- it frees up 7 GB of space. When then comparing disk sizes apples-to-apples, adjusting for how the two companies determine disk sizes differently -- the 128 GB Surface Pro ends up with more available disk space than the 128 GB MacBook Air 11.
Ed's conclusion is that the faux outrage by some journalists and many techie fans who take Microsoft to task, just fall over in love with the MacBook Air is grossly unfair. If not dishonest.
For those interested in reading the full article, it's worth it, even if you have to to skim parts. At the very least, the charts and graphs he includes are wonderful, clear and very easy to understand.
Elementary, my dear Bott. But seriously impressive, nonetheless. Another reason I keep bringing up Ed Bott. And will continue to.
Keeping you safe on the Information Superhighway...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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