Microsoft's family of Surface tablets may grow to include a 7" model tailored specifically for gaming. Rumors of an Xbox Surface device popped up this summer, and multiple sources have confirmed to The Verge that "initial hardware planning" is underway. According to the site, the game-centic Surface "is being developed independent of specific hardware architecture." ARM- and Intel-based processors are named as possible underpinnings, and the original rumor from the summer suggested a combination of IBM PowerPC CPU cores and AMD Radeon graphics.
Rather than running Windows 8 or its RT sibling, the Xbox Surface tablet will purportedly use a cut-down version of the OS with a custom kernel. It's unclear whether games and applications written for the device would be compatible with other Windows machines, though.
Given the iPad's popularity as a gaming platform and the huge number of iDevices already on the market, Microsoft may have a hard time convincing developers to target an Xbox-infused Surface tablet. Keep in mind, too, that the Apple has steadily bolstered the iPad's processing and graphics horsepower. Throw in the best screen in the business, and any gaming tablet faces stiff competition on hardware capabilities alone.
The imprecise nature of touchscreen controls, combined with the fact that my hand inevitably obscures part of the display, has kept me from really getting into tablet gaming. Those issues are even worse on 7" devices, which makes me hope Microsoft is cooking up an alternate input mechanism for the Xbox Surface. Dual analog sticks, please.