Is Surface Going To Take Tablet Gaming Seriously?

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We all should know by now that Microsoft's big announcement was Surface, a tablet that is as cool as it is functional. People, including yours truly, seem to be really diggin' the cover that doubles as a keyboard. The only problem with last night's showing is that Microsoft didn't show off any software, but it's assumed that it will play games. The question now is what kind of games.

The Surface tablet is unique because it comes in two operating system varieties - Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro. The Windows RT tablet uses an ARM processor and is clearly targeted towards college students with its included Office 15 apps. The other Surface tablet - Windows 8 Pro - is the one we have to pay attention to.

The specs according to Microsoft peg the Windows 8 Pro Surface as having an Intel i5 Ivy Bridge processor. That puts the Windows 8 Pro version of Surface on par with an Ultrabook and Microsoft themselves said it would be comparable in price to one of Intel's Ultrabooks.

So we have a tablet that's powered by one of the best processors on the market, comes with a keyboard and has multiple outs for expansion. That just screams gaming machine if only on a smaller level. Considering that it's also coupled with Windows 8 Pro only cements it as being the mobile PC gaming machine that many people have always wanted.

We got a bit more confirmation last night when Eric Neustadter, self-proclaimed Xbox Live Operations Gaming Ninja, said that Surface with an Intel CPU would play Civilization.

You could take this as just a Microsoft employee hyping up his company's product, but it does make sense. The Intel-based Surface has all the necessary requirements to play a lot of PC titles. While integrated graphics have long been the bane of PC gaming, more and more developers are beginning to offer support for Intel's Ivy Bridge on-board graphics. A game like Civ V would be no problem for the Intel-based Surface.

Well known gaming guru Kevin Dent also offered his two cents on the gaming possibilities of Surface:

Dent links to Steam, Valve's digital content delivery service. As long as Microsoft offers a full-fledged Windows 8 Pro experience with the surface, Steam should be able to thrive on the device. The addition of a USB 3.0 port means that gamers can use their gaming mouse in tandem with the cover/keyboard.

It's apparent that the Surface can be the best gaming tablet ever, but will consumers jump on board? It's unfortunately not going to appeal to those who own an iPad. Those consumers are only in it for the short bursts of distractions that games like Cut the Rope or Angry Birds bring. Microsoft would be smart to market the Surface to the core PC gamers out there who would love to have a super thin gaming laptop/tablet hybrid.

Of course, Microsoft could really drop the ball and ruin any chance the Surface has at being a gaming tablet. In that case, there's another Windows 8 tablet coming out that's even more powerful than Surface that should be able to run every PC game you own on max settings. Have fun paying more than $1,000 for it though.

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