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Microsoft cooking up a handheld Xbox?

Now that the Surface tablet and Windows 8 are launched and ready for consumer scrutiny it’s time for a build up to the next bit of rumor surrounding the Redmond-based software giant.

As previously reported by us in a recent article, the next Microsoft game console may be called the Xbox Next or something that doesn’t have to do with doubling upon the previous gen numbering system.  There’s probably no doubt that there will be a next-gen Xbox released to compete with the Nintendo Wii U and Sony PlayStation 4, but what about the handheld market?

The PS Vita and the Nintendo DS are currently the big players in this niche, but if you throw in tablet brands such as the Nexus 7 and Apple’s new iPad Mini and you have a rather perplexing ecosystem.  Sure, true console/handheld gamers will probably negate the fact that a tablet can be considered as a ‘gaming system,’ but one cannot doubt that tablets can deliver just as much horses as a handheld (maybe not so much a console, just yet). 

That said, there are some rumors suggesting that Microsoft is considering developing a handheld gaming device that will use Windows 8 to drive the game software.  What do you suppose Microsoft may call this device?  Why not the Xbox Surface? 

Microsoft has garnered enough experience and industry know-how through its Xbox console hey-day to slap the Xbox brand onto a portable device to woo gamers.  The Microsoft mobile app store hasn’t matured enough for a ‘portable gaming Windows 8’ tablet to stand on its own, but with the help of partnering game developers a 'portable Xbox’ may be a reality sooner than one might think. 

(EA's latest NFS: Most Wanted on a mobile platform.  Got an HDMI out?  Hook your device up to an HD TV.)

While I still favor the personalization of a PC gaming rig, it’s hard for me to deny the fact that mobile devices are catching up in terms of functionality and visual eye candy (also, check out our review of NFS: Most Wanted for the Vita).  No single tablet can replace the gaming rig which I spent countless hours devising and putting together, but the reality is that we can achieve almost just as much on a portable device today as we once did on a full tower PC—be it productivity or gaming.

Many questions are going to be answered within the next few years as the ‘personal computer’ evolves.  For the hackers and geeks that love the ‘personalization’ part of a PC, let’s hope that the future of the PC industry will continue to allow us to customize the hardware the way we want it.  For those that likes to have something that ‘just works’ without any tinkering and modding there will be plenty of that floating around.

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