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In the mobile market, it’s fair to say Microsoft has a little catching up to do, but having already released a very promising mobile platform and, lest we forget, the Surface, the Redmond company is now setting its sights on the increasingly-popular 7-inch tablet market. Taking a slightly different angle to the manner in which the Nexus 7 and iPad mini have been marketed, rumor has it the software maker’s effort will be pushed as a "gaming tablet," and work on the purported "Xbox Surface" is already said to be underway.

According to a report over at the oft-reliable TheVerge, Microsoft is in the process of constructing its own 7-inch gaming tablet. Citing numerous sources, the report then goes on to suggest hardware planning for the device is in motion, and that the specs leaked all the way back in June are representative of what we’ll be seeing with the final product. These include a 1280×720 display, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and an SD slot, among a bunch of other basic amenities.

The processor will likely be of ARM variation, and the RAM will need to be specially-designed to handle intensive gaming. There are no guarantees on the processor front, since Microsoft could be holding out for an Intel SoC which the chip maker is developing but has yet to announce. Regardless of whether it is powered by an ARM or Intel chip, though, it will not run on the full version of Windows 8. Much like the current Surface slate, it will run on a custom edition of Windows, although whether that’ll simply be Windows RT or not remains to be seen.

TheVerge also notes that the Xbox Surface is currently being designed at the Microsoft HQ in Silicon Valley, and with several buildings already locked-down with restricted access, it would appear as though testing is now in full flow. Should the device continue to be developed to the point of retail, then it’ll likely arrive before the next-generation Xbox console, and although Microsoft has naturally declined to comment on the re-ignition of the Xbox Surface rumors, we’ll keep you guys updated should we hear any more.

A 7-inch gaming tablet would certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons, and with Xbox branding, there’s little doubt it would sell in vast quantities. Thoughts?

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