Microsoft reportedly working on 7-Inch Xbox Surface tablet

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New reports suggest that Microsoft's tablet hardware strategy may just be taking a distinctly mullet-like approach designed to appeal to professionals and casual users alike.

The Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets have already kicked things off by putting business sensibilities on the front lines, but those initial offerings may just be backed up by a 7-inch "Xbox Surface" tablet tailored specifically for gaming.

Rumors of an Xbox Surface tablet floated up before Microsoft even unveiled the Surface proper, but The Verge says it's now received confirmation of the rumor's authenticity. The Xbox Surface won't run a full version of Windows, its sources claim; instead, the tablet will run a custom Windows build that keeps distractions to a minimum as part of a ruthless focus on gaming, though basic features like messaging may wind up in the end product. We'd also expect to see Xbox-branded apps like Xbox Music, Xbox Video and Xbox SmartGlass to pop up in the tablet if it winds up on retail shelves.

If the information is correct, the Xbox Surface will sport high-bandwidth RAM to handle the heavy data flow associated with 3D gaming, most likely paired with another custom part: a high-powered ARM processor. However, The Verge's sources say that chip may be swapped out for a secret Intel chip in the end product.

Creating a gaming tablet with an Intel-based processor would seem to make more sense on the surface (get it?), as the architecture would allow portable gamers to tap into the deep library of PC gaming titles already available for the Windows platform. That's likely the reason that Razer seems to be leaning towards an Intel Core chip for its own gaming-focused Project Fiona Windows tablet.

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Earlier leaked specs are said to be accurate, meaning the Xbox Surface could have a 7-inch 1280 x 720 display, support for wireless gaming controllers, four UBS 3.0 ports, a 3-in-1 SD card slot, and HDMI, Ethernet and S/PDIF ports.

The Xbox Surface is allegedly being developed in deep secrecy; Microsoft is said to be building the hardware away from the main Xbox console production facility, while Verge sources claim that multiple Xbox-focused buildings in Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus have been "locked down," only admitting members of the Interactive Entertainment Business division.

An Xbox Surface tablet would help Microsoft further develop the synergies between its home entertainment and computing arms, while simultaneously catering to the legions of gamers who frequently scratch their entertainment itch on a touch-friendly tablet.