Right now, there are Microsoft Surface tablets and Xbox 360 video game consoles. In the future, those two devices could merge to become the Xbox Surface gaming tablet.
That’s according to a new rumor by The Verge, which states that Microsoft is currently developing a secret 7-inch gaming tablet that would bring the Xbox experience into the hands of gamers anywhere they go.
The Verge cites “multiple sources familiar with plans within Redmond” as its evidence, so take this news with a few grains of salt. That article also says that the Xbox Surface would include hardware specifically designed for gaming tasks (no kidding?), including high-bandwidth RAM and a custom ARM CPU (something that is currently included on the Surface RT).
The tablet will also not run a full version of Windows. Like the Xbox in your living room, the Xbox Surface will run a custom Windows kernel designed to run basic apps and – of course – play games.
When Microsoft was developing the Surface, it sent its headquarters into lockdown mode in several buildings. Those directly involved with the Surface had to pass through security checkpoints at work every day to ensure that no secrets were leaked. All development took place behind closed and locked doors. As a result, Microsoft’s announcement of the tablet came as a total surprise to even the most ‘inside’ members of the tech community.
And apparently, Microsoft recently increased security at its company headquarters once more. GeekWire.com reported back in September than security had escalated in order to prepare for the company’s development of the new Xbox console. While no news (or even rumors) about that console have shown up online, more news about the Xbox Surface continues to roll out.
Along that same line of thought, it seems strange that sources would suddenly leak news about the Xbox Surface, especially since Microsoft has proven its ability to keep a secret in the past. Did Microsoft assign unreliable people to work on the Xbox Surface? Or are they simply throwing a red herring to the media in the hopes that the Xbox 720 will remain a secret? Who knows.
The Speed Up My PC Free blog isn’t the only website reporting about the Xbox Surface. PCWorld.com also picked up the story and ran with it, publishing a list of features that it would like to see included on the device (if it does actually exist).
Here are those four features, which totally make sense if Microsoft wants to make its console successful:
4) Attachable game controls
There are plenty of good games for Android smartphones and tablets like the iPad, but let’s face it: gaming on a touchscreen system isn’t ideal, particularly for popular Xbox games like shooters. If the Xbox Surface wants to have any sort of success, it better give users the ability to attach game controls. If not, it’s going to face stiff competition from established app markets on Android and iOS devices.
3) Console screen mirroring
Nintendo’s Wii U garnered a lot of attention for its ability to run on a second screen when your TV is in use. Microsoft has already proven its commitment to second screen technology with apps like SmartGlass, so adding this ability into a seven-inch Xbox Surface tablet could be a popular move. With console screen mirroring, you’d never have to worry about your spouse stealing the TV to watch her favorite TV show.
2) Cross-platform gaming
Over the years, a handful of cross-platform games have been released for both Xbox and PC. However, none of these caught on very well. However, it wasn’t that long ago that Microsoft showed a demonstration of cross-platform gaming on a PC, Windows Phone 7, and an Xbox 360. Players could start the game on their PC, pick it up on their Windows Phone, and then continue progressing on their Xbox.
Obviously, this plan hasn’t come to fruition…yet. The Xbox Surface could bring that dream back to life – something that cross-platform gamers around the world would undoubtedly appreciate.
1) Not just games
You might use your Xbox 360 to play a lot of games but today, it’s more than just a gaming device. With the new Windows 8-orietned update, the Xbox has become a complete multimedia center. This has broadened its appeal outside of just hardcore gamers and brought it into the living rooms of families around the world. The Xbox Surface could be very successful if it recaptures this magic.
So what do you think? Could you get used to Xbox gaming on a 7-inch screen? With mobile consoles like the PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS experiencing decent success, an Xbox tablet entry into the market would certainly have potential. Drop us a line in the comments section below!