Xbox Surface, the 7-inch gaming tablet, is in the works

Xbox Surface SpecsBack in June this year, just ahead of the secretive Microsoft Surface announcement, LiveSide first reported a rumor that Microsoft is working on a gaming tablet called Xbox Surface. Whilst we got the “Surface” part of the name right, Microsoft instead announced two tablets based on Windows 8 and Windows RT on June 18, not exactly an Xbox gaming tablet. However, it appears the report did seem to have some truth to it, and today The Verge reported that they have confirmed via multiple unnamed sources that the 7-inch Xbox Surface is indeed in the works:

The Xbox Surface will likely include a custom ARM processor and high-bandwidth RAM designed specifically for gaming tasks. We’re told these specifications could be altered to accommodate an unannounced Intel SoC and that the Xbox Surface is being developed independent of specific hardware architecture. Microsoft’s Xbox Surface won’t run a full version of Windows, rather this 7-inch tablet will run a custom Windows kernel. Messaging and other tablet functions may be supported, but the focus is on gaming.

Microsoft has developed a secret hardware production process for its Surface tablets that is separated from partners that traditionally manufacturer the company’s Xbox console. We’re told that the Xbox Surface will likely be manufactured in the same factory, but that any future “Xbox 720” console will be manufactured in mass quantities by companies like Pegatron or Foxconn.

We’ve learned that part of the Xbox Surface is being developed at Microsoft’s offices in Silicon Valley. The software giant recently locked down several Xbox-related buildings, limiting employee access to the company’s Interactive Entertainment Business division. The lock down is likely related to Microsoft’s increased testing of the tablet, providing a way for other parts of the Xbox team to build games and software for the device.

The Verge also mentioned that the initial specifications that was leaked earlier in June were accurate, which includes a 7-inch multi-touch LED screen, 1280 x 720 resolution, SD card support, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and a rechargeable battery with up to 7 hours of use. Below is the detailed specification sheet LiveSide reported earlier:

Xbox Surface Specs

Note that the specification sheet above does mention a separate stationery console unit, which could potentially be specifications of the next Xbox console. According to The Verge, it is possible that the Xbox Surface may debut ahead of Microsoft’s future Xbox console.