I’ve been resisting reporting on this all day. Not because I don’t find it interesting but because I have a strange feeling that it’s just not relevant to us as a videogames website. You see, Microsoft is hosting a last-minute event in Hollywood tonight that the tech journalism world has assumed is something to do with their rumoured tablet projects.
The invitations have not been sent to games journalists, as far as I can tell so it’s safe to assume that it’s nothing to do with their Xbox platform in relation to video games and probably not too closely related to that platform at all. If it was something they wanted to sell to gamers, they’d invite gamers with big websites to see it.
But everyone is reporting it so we should probably have our say too. After that lengthy and caveat-filled introduction, let’s see what the latest wild rumours are.[drop2]A website called Shifted2U has posted a very dubious looking spec sheet that doesn’t bother with any of those fiddly corporate things like using the correct typefaces, clear logos or visual identity guidelines. In that hastily thrown together document, there is mention of a tablet and stationary device (possibly a console) working together. It references Surface, a technology that Microsoft already makes into big touchscreen TVs and table-top computers for stirring about with your fingers like you’re on an episode of the Hawaii 50 remake.
This document features some crazy specifications, like 22.2 surround audio – a technology that requires 24 speakers, configured in layers that was developed to go along with Ultra HDTV. It also talks about maximum resolution (for the stationary bit of the device) of 1440p, which sounds like a weird middle ground between current standards and Apple’s boastful “retina” displays but isn’t close to the Ultra HDTV that the audio tech seems to suggest. But then the tablet section is listed as having a 1280×800 screen, which is below today’s standards on a device not due out until next year.
Processor speeds are nice and meaty, with twelve cores in total, running at 3.1GHz and making it roughly similar to Apple’s new Mac Pros that cost upwards of $8000 but then it’s only got 5GB RAM, which is plenty if it’s a closed system but still a weird figure, given RAM memory’s usual increments.
Oh, and then there’s the storage capacity. A lowly 250GB hard disk isn’t enough to store more than a handful of movies at full HD resolution, especially if you want to make use of that insane surround sound feature.
To add to this madness, we’ve also seen another (probably fake) spec sheet floating around that quotes reasonably similar figures for a tablet and console device but it links to an email address for a guy at Microsoft who probably wouldn’t be the contact for a project like this (he’s a Microsoft Research guy who deals mostly with SQL and some Sense and Voice stuff).
The bottom line is, all of this speculation is even less likely to be worth trusting than the one that Microsoft’s lawyers had taken down at the weekend. It might be fun to throw lots of numbers around and speculate that Microsoft’s next Xbox console is going to be some kind of better-than-HD Wii U bandwagon-hop but that’s not what tonight’s even is likely to be about and these multiple spec sheets look less trustworthy than a £5 ebay listing for a final version of Windows 8.