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Microsoft Xbox Surface gaming tablet rumoured

Microsoft is rumoured to be working on a gaming tablet for its Surface brand, to be launched under a combined Xbox and Surface name.

According to details leaked to The Verge by multiple anonymous sources familiar with the company's plans, Microsoft is looking to launch a 7in tablet based around a custom ARM processor and high-performance graphics to attack the mobile gaming market - an area in which the company has been notably absent.

Of the three major gaming companies - Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft - the Windows creator is the only one without a mobile gaming offering. Nintendo has its 3DS console line, while Sony has the Vita - but, despite rumours, there has never been an official portable Xbox product. The company has also shied away from gaming smartphone devices, preferring to aim its Windows Phone product at more professional users despite the success of mobile gaming apps on Apple's iOS and Google's Android platform.

The launch of an Xbox Surface could change that. Designed around a more powerful processor than the Surface tablets that launched last month, the device would feature heavy integration with Microsoft's Xbox Live online gaming service including the ability to view and message friends, track game progress and even control an Xbox 360 console through Xbox SmartGlass technology - similar to the connectivity between a PlayStation Portable or a PlayStation Vita and Sony's PlayStation 3 console.

Unlike existing iOS and Android SmartGlass apps, however, the device would be capable of playing console-quality games on its own. Thus far it's not clear whether the company would be interested in running games natively or opting for a cloud gaming system like that offered by Gaikai, which uses powerful remote servers to do the rendering and results in higher-quality graphics and physics than are typically possible on a portable device.

Sadly, the rumours have not extended to a suggested price or launch date - and Microsoft, true to form, has stated only that it does not comment on "industry rumours or speculation."

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