With Microsoft's launch of its Surface RT tablet a couple of weeks ago - and the upcoming launch of a Windows 8 version of the same device - there's been plenty of talk about more Microsoft hardware on the horizon. The company's CEO Steve Ballmer has made no secret of this, admitting that if the right opportunities arise, Microsoft will have no qualms about producing devices to satisfy market needs.
Much of the speculation regarding what MS might produce next has been focused upon a 'Surface Phone', as the company's tiny share of the smartphone market has led many to believe that Microsoft is already working on its own handset, in case its OEM strategy fails to produce the desired results. But The Verge reports that the company's next big thing will be a 7-inch gaming tablet, the 'Xbox Surface'.
This isn't the first time we've heard about such a device. Back in June - hours ahead of the official announcement of the now-familiar Surface tablets - the first substantial details regarding a possible Xbox Surface tablet were leaked (although there had been murmurings about it even before then):
It's believed that the specs above are broadly accurate. A "custom ARM processor and high-bandwidth RAM" are reportedly part of the package, indicating that this won't simply be a miniaturised version of the current Surface tablets.
The new tablet is said to run a custom Windows kernel, with a user experience focused around gaming and, presumably, on the Xbox Entertainment services recently launched to replace Zune. Some features - such as messaging and email support - may still be implemented, but don't expect full-fat Windows on the new device.
Reports a few weeks ago pointed to increased security around the company's Xbox-related buildings; at the time, it was widely accepted that this was related to development of the next-generation Xbox console, but it now seems inevitable that this was related to the company's plans for the new gaming tablet. Recent reports also suggested that Microsoft had established its own facility to build its Surface tablets; it's believed that the Xbox Surface is expected to be built at the same factory.