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Andrew Sokolowski claims in court papers that the Surface RT tablet he purchased was supposed to be capable of storing 32 GB of data, but that only 16 GB remained after accounting for the pre-installed Windows RT operating system and Microsoft Office apps.
The suit was filed earlier this week in Superior Court in Los Angeles. In a statement to the Associated Press, Microsoft said the suit, which asks for class-action status, is baseless.
"Customers understand the operating system and pre-installed applications reside on the device's internal storage, thereby reducing the total free space," Microsoft said. Surface RT is available in 32 GB or 64 GB configurations. The price starts at $499 for the 32-GB unit.
[ What might Microsoft be planning for the future? Read Watch For Microsoft To Acquire Nokia, Nvidia. ]
The lawsuit is the latest headache for Microsoft when it comes to Surface and Windows 8 tablets in general. A source said the company's sales reps are unhappy that a more business-friendly version of Surface, known as Surface Pro, won't be available until later this year or early next year.
Surface Pro runs Windows 8 Pro, and is compatible with all Windows software and legacy applications, as well as Microsoft's back-end administration, security and cloud tools. Surface RT runs Windows RT, which only supports pre-installed Microsoft software, or apps downloaded from the company's online Windows Store.
A Microsoft spokesperson this week said Surface Pro would be available in 70 days.
Also disrupting the Windows 8 rollout is a shortage of tablets that are powered by the new Clover Trail version of Intel's Atom processor. Insiders say the chipmaker has yet to produce Clover Trail in large quantities as the chip still has some bugs to be worked out. Clover Trail is supposed to deliver all-day battery life and 30 days of standby power.
The delay has left a number of computer makers, including Dell, Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard, unable to provide customers with a firm launch date for previously announced systems. Dell's website indicates a preliminary ship date of late December for its Latitude 10.
Also this week, the head of Microsoft's Windows unit, Steven Sinofsky exited the company.
Logistical problems aside, Surface and Windows 8 have received generally positive reviews. The OS ditches familiar Windows features like the Start Screen and Taskbar in favor of a new GUI that features blocky tiles like those found on Windows Phone 8, from which users can launch applications and services.
Windows 8 is key to Microsoft's efforts to catch Apple and Google's Android in the tablet market. It formally launched on Oct. 26.