More information is starting to leak about new Xbox hardware coming over the next two years. As we learned last month, Microsoft is planning to release a disc-less Xbox One in Spring 2019 (codenamed “Maverick”), which could be accompanied by a ‘disc-to-digital’ program (codenamed “Roma”) letting you exchange your physical games into digital licences. Later in the year, Microsoft is also expected to release a new version of its Xbox One S console that would be cheaper to manufacture, just like the Xbox 360 E was at the end of the Xbox 360 lifecycle.
Things should become much more interesting in 2020, which will be the year when Microsoft will launch its “Scarlett” family of next-gen Xbox consoles. According to a previous report from Brad Sams, Microsoft is planning to launch a new “cloud console” designed from the ground up for Microsoft’s Project xCloud streaming service. In addition to this streaming box, Microsoft is also working on a full-blown console that run games locally.
Jez Corden from Windows Central and Brad Sams from Thurrott.com have both recently published additional information about the “Scarlett” family of consoles, including several new codenames. “Lockhart” will reportedly be the name for the affordable SKU, while “Anaconda” is the codename for the higher-end console. “Microsoft refers to Anaconda as Scarlett Pro and Lockhart as Scarlett Arcade. Think of Lockhart as the successor to the Xbox One S, whereas Anaconda is the successor to the Xbox One X. And to toss one more name into the bunch, Danta is the name of the Scarlett devkit that is based on Anaconda,” wrote Sams.
Contrary to what the previous “cloud console” rumors suggested, it seems that this “affordable” console will be quite powerful. “The next-gen Lockhart console will be the affordable SKU, providing the next-gen Xbox experience in a package potentially around as powerful as the current Xbox One X hardware wise, with refinements under the hood,” wrote Corden.
The “Scarlett” family of consoles will continue to use the AMD x86 processors, and Wccftech is reporting today that the cloud-focused Lockhart could use a Semi-Custom AMD Picasso Accelerated Processing Unit (APU). As for the more powerful “Anaconda” console, Windows Central also heard that it may come with “technology to dramatically reduce loading times, potentially including SSD storage in the package.”
It’s also important to note that the two new “Scarlett” consoles should support backward compatibility, just like current Xbox One consoles do. Windows Core OS, the modular version of Windows that will run on the next-gen HoloLens and Surface Hub is also expected to power the new “Scarlett” consoles.
Windows Core OS is apparently tied to “GameCore,” which is apparently a new milestone for Microsoft’s UWP platform for games. “GameCore is the evolution of the UWP platform and is going to help Microsoft eventually start building container-based apps, wrote Brad Sams. “GameCore will make it significantly easier for developers to utilize Xbox services on both PC and the Xbox and should provide for higher levels of performance with lower-level system access and control of hardware assets.”
That’s a lot of Xbox news to digest, and it’s a bit hard to believe that Microsoft plans to launch four new consoles over the next two years. The “Maverick” disc-less Xbox One launching in Spring 2019 will be a real test for the company, but it makes senses for Microsoft to release this console next year when the company’s Project xCloud game streaming service will also launch in public preview. As for the next-gen “Scarlett” consoles coming in 2020, Windows Central believes that they will still come with traditional disc drives “at least as an option,” which is good to know for fans of physical games.