‘Xbox Live streaming’ tablet unveiled tomorrow?

No, we don’t think so either. But the latest rumour about tomorrow’s expected Microsoft ‘iPad rival’ unveiling says the new device is an ereader table that ‘streams Xbox Live’.

[UPDATE: TechCrunch, via Twitter, has clarified to the author of this piece what it means but ‘Xbox Live streaming’ – apparently, this refers only to streaming of movies via the Zune service.]

That claim sounds a bit ridiculous, but let’s rewind for a recap.

Last week Microsoft hastily sent out invites to the US press inviting them to a Los Angeles press conference tomorrow.

"This will be a major Microsoft announcement – you will not want to miss it," the invite read.

Rumours have pegged the unveiling as being for a powerful Windows RT/Windows 8 tablet.

A report on TechCrunch has moved to slow down the expectations – pointing out the last minute nature of the invite and odd choice of host city – but fleshes out some of the details from a source.

The site says that tomorrow will in fact see the debut of a new Microsoft tablet produced with US book retailer Barnes & Noble.

B&N previously launched Kindle-rival the Nook, and just two months ago entered into a mysterious strategic partnership with Microsoft for a new business called Newco. MS has put $300m into that business as part of the deal, getting a 17.6% equity stake.

TechCrunch suggests the new product is an e-reader device – seeing as this is for B&N – and the main product of the joint venture.

But the big surprise is the claim "Another source says the tablet may be the first non-Xbox device to gain Xbox Live streaming capabilities, which might explain the location of the event".

Streaming of games? Doesn’t seem too likely right now – although technology exists to do this, as proven by OnLive and Gaikai and their various SmartTV and Android apps.

Perhaps it is more likely that Microsoft has provided learnings – and maybe even access to – the Xbox Live marketplace and its many features.

Certainly, the Xbox division at Microsoft has its eye on tablets and portable screens – the firm unveiled its SmartGlass app and content concept at E3 earlier this month.

SmartGlass in principle enables asynchronous gameplay, remote access to game content, and the supply of companion content for TV and films, plus streaming of movies from the Zune Movie Store and the new Xbox Music marketplace.

SmartGlass was described as being for all tablet and mobile platforms, with specific reference to iOS and Android as well as Windows. So maybe this supposed new tablet might be the first of such platforms to use it?

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