Microsoft brewing PSP assassin

It looks like an ‘Xboy’ may see the light of day after all. According to a story in yesterday’s San Francisco-based San Jose Mercury News, Microsoft’s

It looks like an ‘Xboy’ may see the light of day after all.

According to a story in yesterday’s San Francisco-based San Jose Mercury News, Microsoft’s hard at work on a handheld gaming gadget with PSP-like multimedia powers.

The Mercury’s secret sources reckon the portable gamer will debut next year or – hedging their bets in true Horoscope fashion – ‘maybe two’. Internal restructuring at Microsoft and a partnership are also, it figures, clues to the project’s existence.

Despite the surfeit of speculation and lack of hard facts, we think the Mercury’s right. Leaving the porta music and gaming arena to Apple’s Pod and Sony’s PSP would be commercially daft, not to mention leaving the Xbox 360 – whose controller is pictured - showing a dangerously vulnerable flank.

The upcoming PS3 [story here], for example, will definitely talk and connect to the PSP, giving Sony a big advantage over the Xbox.

Microsoft’s deliberately putting its gadget eggs in several baskets. As well as this rumoured PSP rival, it’s applying the finishing touches to the next generation of mini tablet PCs, snappily dubbed Ultra Mobile PCs (for more on them, have a listen to our 17th March podcast).

There’s also the Trojan horse of Windows Mobile-powered mobile phones, such as Samsung’s 8GB SGH-i310.

All this, of course, is without mentioning the ready-made games catalogue a Microsoft X-gamer would have: several hundred original Xbox games could be ported over to a new portable console. Halo 1 on the train, anyone?

Click here for the Mercury story.