Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Surface Pro for gamers?

Four days ago, the Surface Pro from Microsoft hits stores. So far the reaction has been mostly positive. Microsoft's online store ran out of the 128 Gigabyte version on day one. That's great news for Microsoft, but are they missing something?

According to a post from Jason Evangelho from and a related post on CNET by Brooke Crothers, the Surface Pro can run Valve's Portal 2 as well as Diablo III at near top graphics setting! This is quite a performance acheivement when most laptop and budget desktop PC's are too anemic to manage such a feat. So what's the problem? Microsoft isn't bragging about it!

After months of brazzen advertisements featuring young professionals (and school children with way to much attitude) break dancing in praise of the Surface RT and Surface Pro, not to mention most peoples disappointment with the Surface RT's operating system, Microsoft should be shouting the Pro's powerhouse capabilities from the roof tops! But, instead the Surface Pro is being advertised as a business tool, ignoring a prime set of technological early adopters... Gamers and Tech geeks who would be far more likely to take notice of the Surface Pro if they knew it could be a kick-ass gaming rig.

This isn't the first time Microsoft has been involved in a series of products made for business and ignored the obvious entertainment potential of that product. About a decade ago now (Oh God, I still can't believe I'm over thirty! I wrote and complain about this on my first blog!) Microsoft all but won the war for supremacy in the Person Digital Assistant market with it's Pocket PC OS running in champion level devices from HP, Dell, Casio, Sony and many, many others. The trouble with PDA's including Pocket PC devices was that they where only ever marketed to business professionals.

The general public was scarcely aware that such devices even existed. The Smartphone trend inproved awareness a bit with devices like the Tilt, but the main marketing focus remained on the business person. The irony of all this is that sites like Handango (the Appstore of it's day) consistantly reported the No 1 category of sales was always either Games or Entertainment! Eidos Int. even made a version of Tomb Raider just for Pocket PC, thats how popular gaming was with PDA owners and how capable the devices where!

But Microsoft never capitalized on this hidden talent by marketing these multifunction marvels to the masses. All this just became a missed opportunity of epic scale because when the iPhone and iPod touch hit the market, they essentially killed Pocket PC's (which by then had been rebranded as Windows Mobile) market share. Windows 8 Phone edition is slowly gaining a following but this may be proof that Microsoft has still not learned it's lesson (either that or there is a massive 2nd phase to the ad campain that we haven't seen yet).

With so many gaming products due out this year that center around the Android OS, let's hope Microsoft has trick up it's sleave or starts paying attention soon, before the Surface Pro becomes another example of missed opportunity for the aging software giant.

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