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We’ve heard rumblings about a possible 7-inch Surface tablet launching this year since as early as April, though we got more concrete-seeming reports just this past weekend. But in the wake of Microsoft’s Surface 2 reveal from Monday, it looks like the supposed Surface Mini might not hit stores until sometime in spring of 2013.

The rumors of the Surface Mini’s delay comes courtesy of a post on ZDNet today, in which we learn that the device would be powered by an ARM processor, would come pre-loaded with Windows 8.1, and may even drop the Surface brand entirely. What would they call it? The post says it might be named the “Xbox Surface.”

The post relies on unnamed sources for this information, so it remains to be seen whether or not they’re on the money. But there’s an air of truth to all of this. Indeed, Microsoft branding a Surface tablet with that of its most successful product since windows—the Xbox—would make a lot of sense considering the impending launch of the Xbox One game console. Furthermore, Microsoft’s SmartGlass app launched last year and has yet to see much in the way of integration in actual games. If the company were to put out a low-cost, Windows RT powered tablet that’s branded specifically for Xbox One and Xbox 360 interaction, it could do the trick.

The Xbox Surface could be a great Trojan horse to sneak the tablets into people’s homes. I could even imagine an Xbox-optimized interface that could be installed over Windows RT—sort of like the custom launcher Amazon created for its Kindle Fire tablets. Those things are Android devices, but you’d never know it by interacting with them.

And changing the name to include the Xbox brand is a solid idea as well. I mentioned last week that I thought the Surface Pro should be renamed to something else so as to limit consumer confusion. I still think the Surface Pro 2 is a bad name for a cool computer, it seems clear that Microsoft knows it needs to do a better job of differentiating its products. Calling the device the Xbox Surface would go a long way toward telling consumers exactly what it is and what it’s for, and that’s a good thing.

And waiting to release it until spring 2014 makes sense too. That way there will already be a built-in user base from the Xbox One’s launch this November, and people might have money back in their pockets after the holidays are over.

Until Microsoft makes a formal announcement, we’ll have to wait and see if the Xbox Surface actually, uh, surfaces.

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