Nov. 6, 2012 at 3:00 PM ET
Microsoft is secretly working on a 7-inch Xbox Surface tablet, according to a report from tech blog The Verge.
The site reported Tuesday that the tablet will be gaming focused and is expected to launch ahead of the next version of the Xbox home console, which is rumored to be coming sometime next year.
The Verge said it had confirmed with "multiple sources familiar with plans within Redmond" that the the Xbox Surface "will likely include a custom ARM processor and high-bandwidth RAM designed specifically for gaming tasks."
This isn't the first time this gaming tablet rumor has made the rounds. Back in June — right before Microsoft revealed its new Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets — a document supposedly outlining the specifications for a gaming-specific, Xbox-branded Surface tablet was leaked. That document revealed a tablet with a 7-inch screen with 1280 x 720 resolution, SD card support and support of up to four wireless game controllers.
The Verge reported Tuesday that their sources say those initial specs are accurate and, additionally, that Microsoft's Xbox Surface won't run a full version of Windows, but a custom Windows kernel instead.
An Xbox-tied, gaming-centric tablet certainly makes sense, especially as "second-screens" are already being integrated into gaming by Microsoft's competitors.
On Nov. 18, Nintendo will launch its Wii U — a new home game console that works with a tablet-like controller with a touch-screen. Meanwhile, Sony has been bringing its handheld Vita game machine (with its 5-inch touchscreen) into play with some of its PlayStation 3 games.
Microsoft has already made steps in this direction as well, launching its SmartGlass app last month alongside Windows 8 and its Surface tablets (which have 10.6-inch displays). The app connects phones and tablets with the Xbox 360 so the portable devices can act like a kind of remote control for the game machine.
But if the specs for the rumored Xbox Surface tablet turn out to be true, it's the device's support of up to four traditional gaming controllers that is perhaps most interesting to video game fans.
Tablets have become a popular destination for gaming — but mostly for playing more casual games ("Angry Birds," "Plants vs. Zombies," etc). That's because the tablet's touch-screen controls are less-than-ideal when it comes to playing the more hard-core oriented games and certainly first-person shooting games. An Xbox Surface tablet paired with traditional Xbox controllers could bring core gaming to tablets in a much bigger, better way.
I have contacted Microsoft for comment about the Xbox Surface tablet rumors but they have not yet responded.
-- Via The Verge.
Winda Benedetti writes about video games for NBC News. You can follow her tweets about games and other things on Twitter here @WindaBenedetti and you can follow her on Google+. Meanwhile, be sure to check out the IN-GAME FACEBOOK PAGE to discuss the day's gaming news and reviews.