Gaming Tablet in Works at Microsoft?

If the Surface tablet surprised many when Microsoft revealed the prototype, the latest leaks from Redmond should raise many eyebrows. The software giant is apparently working on gaming-focused version of its tablet, to be dubbed the Xbox Surface.The Verge delivers the story, citing “multiple sources familiar with plans in Redmond” as stating that the initial hardware planning for this tablet has begun. Plans for the seven-inch gaming tablet initially surfaced back in June. Assuming an actual Xbox Surface comes out, users can expect that it will include a custom ARM processor and high-bandwidth RAM to cope with gaming tasks.The Xbox Surface won’t boast a full version of Windows, according to The Verge. Instead, it will feature a custom Windows kernel. It might support messaging and certain other tablet functions, but these won’t be central to its offerings. It’s supposed to be optimized for gaming. The rumors in June described a device with a 1280 x 720 resolution screen, SD card support, and the ability to support up to four wireless game controllers.Microsoft’s gaming tablet won’t be built by the same manufacturers that make the Xbox console. Rather, it will be made by the same factory that puts out the company’s Surface tablets. Why? Apparently the construction of the Surface hardware involves a secret (perhaps proprietary?) process, and the Xbox manufacturers aren’t in on the secret.The company isn’t quite ready to take the product to the manufacturer yet, however – assuming the product is more than just a rumor. The Verge cited one tantalizing hint that it’s real: “The software giant recently locked down several Xbox-related buildings, limiting access to the company’s Interactive Entertainment Business division.” The Verge seems to think this is due to testing of the Xbox Surface tablet rather than work on the next version of the Xbox console.Creating a seven-inch gaming tablet actually makes sense for Microsoft, especially if the tablet is intended for use with the Xbox as well as independently. Consider that Nintendo will be launching Wii U later this month. The Wii U game console works with a touch-screen tablet-like controller – one that lets you continue your full game on the tablet when someone else wants to use the TV. Sony is testing the waters in this area by allowing its handheld Vita game device, with its five-inch touch-screen, to play well with certain PlayStation 3 games.Actually, Microsoft’s Xbox Surface tablet doesn’t seem too far-fetched at all when you consider that the software giant already released an app last month that tests the waters to see how users would respond to this kind of functionality. It’s called the SmartGlass app, and it lets phones and tablets connect with the Xbox 360 and control the gaming console remotely.If the Xbox Surface becomes a reality and not just a rumor, would you play games on one? Would you buy one? And perhaps most importantly, would you write games and applications for it? Feel free to respond in the comments.