If the rumors are to be believed, the Microsoft Corp. may be ready to release in January its most anticipated next-generation gaming console, the Xbox 720.

There were numerous references to the console at the 2011 Video Game Awards show this month. One suggestion was that the unveiling of the Xbox 720 could be one of the highlights of the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Jan. 10-13.

Microsoft has confirmed that 2012 would be its last year at CES, and many gamers believe the company could choose to leave on a high note -- the introduction of the Xbox 720.

The rumors received more credence when it was reported that Microsoft development kits for new game titles were making the rounds, along with the fact that versions of the forthcoming Windows 8 operating system are also circulating on the Internet. It is widely expected that the new operating system will come together with an announcement on the gaming console, which is expected to go on sale in early 2013. Either way, gamers will have to wait until the 2012 CES for confirmation.

However, a point to be considered is the anticipated arrival of Microsoft's Halo 4 -- the newest installment in the company's best-selling video game series. It is unlikely that Microsoft will make radical hardware shifts and endanger the success of so popular a title.

A Game Bandits report has confirmed that there are, as yet, no videos, photographs, or prototypes of the expected console.