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Microsoft to release 7in 'Xbox Surface' gaming tablet?

Microsoft is reportedly building a 7in gaming tablet that may be dubbed the Xbox Surface in a move that ties together the software giant's gaming console with its new line of tablet PCs running Windows 8 and Windows RT.

The project is in the initial hardware planning stage, according to The Verge, which cited unnamed sources at Microsoft in a report this week.

Rumours about a Microsoft-built gaming tablet first appeared in June. Microsoft has declined to comment on the existence of an Xbox Surface.

The rumoured 7in tablet would run a stripped down version of Windows, according to The Verge. The device is being designed to run on a "custom ARM processor and high-bandwidth RAM," but those "specifications could be altered to accommodate an unannounced Intel SoC and that the Xbox Surface is being developed independent of specific hardware architecture," the tech site reported.

"Messaging and other tablet functions may be supported, but the focus is on gaming," the site continued.

Microsoft is also reportedly running "a secret hardware production process for its Surface tablets" distinct from the manufacturing arrangement used to build its Xbox consoles. The rumoured Xbox Surface tablet would be built in a factory where other Surface devices are being built, whereas next-generation Xbox consoles are likely to be produced in volume by current Xbox partners Pegatron and Foxconn, according to The Verge.

Some components of the rumoured gaming tablet may be getting developed in Microsoft's Silicon Valley offices, the site further reported, alluding to reports of a security "lockdown" at "Xbox-related buildings" located in the company's facilities.

The Xbox Surface would likely appear before Microsoft's next-gen Xbox console, which itself is rumoured to be launching in the second half of next year.