Microsoft is working on an Xbox Surface gaming tablet according to the latest rumours.
The Xbox Surface is a 7-inch tablet that runs a specially modified version of Windows 8, letting the tablet streamline its UI to get you right into gaming. The Verge writes that "multiple sources" in the know have confirmed the tablet, which is a clear rival-in-waiting for tablets like the iPad mini and Google Nexus 7.
Although full details on the gaming tablet are not yet available, it's likely that the Xbox Surface will feature a custom ARM processor and RAM combo designed specifically for gaming purposes. The key spec we know at present is that the Xbox Surface will have a 7-inch screen, suggesting that this size is the key tablet size for gaming, rather than the staple 10-inch type that has dominated the market to date.
All the Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets revealed to date have used 10-inch or larger screens. This is likely as much down to how well Windows 8 would work on such a small screen as whether the market wants a Windows tablet that size. It also helps to explain in part the need for a cut-down Windows kernel in the Xbox Surface.
It may be limited but The Verge writes that Windows features other than gaming will be included, such as messaging and email.
Microsoft has talked-up the use of VaporMg construction in its new Surface tablets. This involves the use of a magnesium alloy that's lighter than aluminium, but tough. It feels a little like plastic, but would nevertheless make a sound choice for the Xbox Surface tablet.
The next big step for the valuable Microsoft Xbox brand is the Xbox 720, the home console that Microsoft is expected to launch next year. It's likely that the console and the Xbox Surface tablet will communicate directly, although whether you'll be able to play a full Xbox 720 game on the Xbox Surface is something we'll just have to daydream about for now.