I recently purchased the 16GB MicroSD Card with NOOBS, and of the 16GB, it appears that I only have around 2GB of free space. Are there files and folders and perhaps programs that come pre-loaded on the MicroSD that are simply not relevant and can be safely removed to free up more space?
The Noobs cards come with a minimal partition to save on writing time at the factory. This partition expands automatically on first boot to give you use of the whole card (about 11GB of free space).
If you have your card in a windows 10 machine hit Win+X and go to Disk Management - you should see a whole bunch of unallocated empty storage space.
Also, Pi OS (being a Linux OS) uses the Ext4 filesystem for its main storage. Windows cannot read or write to this (without extra software) so it won’t show up in explorer, but windows can still see that a partition exists in Disk Management.