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Back in June, hours before Microsoft unveiled its new Surface tablet computer, a series of apparent leaks pointed to the possibility that Microsoft was working on a 7-inch tablet called the Xbox Surface. As it turned out, that wasn’t what Microsoft announced at the time.

But increasingly it’s looking like those leaks weren’t wrong — they were early.

According to a report this morning by Tom Warren on The Verge, the Redmond company is working on exactly that device — a 7-inch gaming tablet called the Xbox Surface, based on the ARM architecture and offering basic tablet functions, but focused more on gaming than the existing Microsoft Surface is. Warren reports that the Xbox Surface would probably debut in advance of the next Xbox console, a.k.a. the “Xbox 720,” as some people like to call it.

Focusing on the Xbox brand for its tablet was the approach that I thought Microsoft would take originally, but hey, better late than never.

We’ve probably caught a glimpse of the approach already with the SmartGlass application, which uses the Surface and other Windows tablets as a remote control and secondary screen forthe Xbox 360 in conjunction with Xbox Live. (There’s also a SmartGlass app for Android, and one for iOS on the way.) My initial experience with SmartGlass has been frustrating at times, but overall it’s a very promising app.

No comment from Microsoft on any of this, but the company has made it clear that Surface will be a family of devices.

Mary Jo Foley has a good roundup of current and past tidbits on this story, helpfully remembering the trademark filing suggesting that SmartGlass would be both hardware and software, which adds another key piece of evidence.

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