Replacement SSDs Now Available for Surface Pro 7+ PCs

Microsoft on Tuesday announced that sales of solid-state drive (SSD) "commercial spares" replacement kits for Surface Pro 7+ PCs is now open, but only in the U.S. market.

The new replacement SSD kits are just available to organizations via reseller partners. They aren't sold to consumer users of the Surface Pro 7+ machines.

"Commercial Spares are not available for purchase in the regular consumer channels and are intended for use by enterprise customers only," Microsoft's announcement indicated.

These replaceable SSD kits, which offer drives at "128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB" sizes, permit "skilled IT technicians" to replace the SSD storage in Surface Pro 7+ PCs by unscrewing part of the PC's casing. However, that simple task comes with lots of caveats.

Replacement Caveats
IT pros need to take care about BitLocker encryption when replacing the SSDs, Microsoft indicated.

If BitLocker drive encryption was used on the old drive and it can't be decrypted, then a BitLocker recovery password needs to be created before removing it. This process is needed because BitLocker protects a drive when "adding or removing hardware" or when "moving the BitLocker-protected drive into a new computer," Microsoft explained in its "BitLocker Recovery Guide" document.

Organizations using the replacement kits also need to use "the original parts from the factory" or they can void the warranty, according to the announcement. Also, Microsoft is discouraging swapping out an original SSD for one that has a larger capacity.

"Installing a non-Microsoft or a Microsoft SSD of different volume than the one provided originally may lead to reduced performance and unsupported configurations," the announcement warned.

Microsoft's "Best Practices" guide indicated that only "qualified IT technicians in an enterprise organization" should attempt to replace the SSDs, although the guide doesn't describe those qualifications. However, there's no requirement for the work to be done by a Microsoft Authorized Service Provider. The guide included a warning about possible electrical shock, but quite a lot of it just described the nuances associated with BitLocker encryption.

Complete replacement instructions can be downloaded at the Microsoft Download Center here.

Just for Surface Pro 7+ Devices
Right now, Microsoft's reseller partners are selling the replacement SSD kits only for Surface Pro 7+ devices, and these kits "will not work for Surface Pro X or Surface Laptop Go." Sales of the kits are initially happening in the U.S. market, but Microsoft is planning to broaden their availability at some unspecified date.

Surface devices generally haven't been considered to be upgradable machines, but Microsoft seems to be giving ground a bit, at least in the case of SSDs. It was done to address enterprise needs around the "critical importance of retaining confidential data and reducing the downtime incurred by a servicing issue," Microsoft's announcement explained.

Drive replacement in PCs is a common practice. However, the first Surface device that Microsoft designed to have an SSD that could be replaced was the Surface Laptop 3, according to a November 2019 Tom's Hardware article.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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