Xbox Surface? More rumors ahead of today's reveal

Alleged spec sheets mentioning a new Xbox controller have surfaced, just ahead of a 'big' mystery Microsoft announcement in Los Angeles.

Microsoft's newly announced SmartGlass may have a role to play in today's announcement. James Martin/CNET

Yes, I said I was done guessing what Microsoft might announce today in Los Angeles. But I can't resist, given a couple more rumors that have surfaced on various sites.

One leak claims Microsoft is making a 7-inch Surface tablet controller along with a stationary Xbox, a combination that could be labeled the "Xbox Surface." Neowin.net surfaced that rumor, based on information from the Shifted2U site. LiveSide.net posted an additional alleged spec sheet for the Xbox Surface.

According to the rumored specs, the Surface controller would include an ARM processor from Texas Instruments for "Kinect workloads," as well as custom IBM engine for "scale out." It would have up to seven-hour battery life and support a maximum resolution of 1280x720.

(Rick Gutierrez -- the guy mentioned as the contact on these Xbox Surface spec sheets? He works for Microsoft Research. He has done work on Kinect for Windows software development kit. He also has worked on the Windows Embedded Compact team. His bio notes that his "primary duties with the Advanced Development team is to Test Projects by Microsoft Researchers.")

Live coverage: Get the Microsoft news from LA as it happens today via CNET's live blog, starting at 3:30 p.m. PT.

So which part of the combination -- the Xbox or the controller -- is the "Surface"? Microsoft's Surface, which first debuted in the form of a big table and which now is a somewhat smaller and thinner device made by Samsung -- is a multitouch computing surface.

Microsoft researchers have said that they have been hoping to get the Surface down to the size of a tablet. (Microsoft user interface researcher Bill Buxton is even on record as saying that could happen by 2013.)

Remember just before the E3 show there were rumors that Microsoft was unveiling some kind of SmartGlass tablet? That didn't pan out. Instead, company officials showed off a coming software application dubbed SmartGlass which is the successor to the current Xbox Companion app . The SmartGlass software is what will provide users with additional information about a TV show, game, or other Xbox content on a second screen, like a tablet or smartphone.

Also: As Geekwire's Todd Bishop discovered when he looked into the trademark for SmartGlass, SmartGlass referred to both software and hardware. Maybe that just meant Xbox ... or maybe it meant a controller... like an Xbox Surface.

What would be the best way for Microsoft to try to one-up Apple's Retina Display technology? Maybe to provide a cool surface of their own.

Oh and about those guesses -- and "sourced reports" of Barnes & Noble being involved in today's Microsoft announcement. B&N is now officially denying it figures in any way in whatever Microsoft is announcing.

About the author

    Mary Jo Foley has been a tech journalist for almost 30 years. She is editor of ZDNet's "All About Microsoft" blog. She authored "Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft Plans to Stay Relevant in the Post-Gates Era" and co-hosts the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT Network.

     

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