Leaked Microsoft document hints at second next-gen Xbox

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Microsoft has been planning a second, cheaper and less power next-gen Xbox console. Codenamed Lockhart, it’s designed to take most of the key next-gen improvements found in the Xbox Series X and provide them at a lower price point for gaming at 1080p or 1440p. A newly leaked Microsoft document, posted on Twitter, includes references to this Lockhart console and multiple “Project Scarlett consoles.”

Project Scarlett was the name Microsoft originally used to reveal its Xbox Series X console before it was officially named. Rumors had suggested two next-gen consoles under the broader Project Scarlett plans: Anaconda and Lockhart. Microsoft has etched an anaconda snake into the Xbox Series X mainboard, but the company has never publicly discussed its Lockhart plans.

an Anaconda snake is etched into the Xbox Series X mainboard, so what’s going to be eteched into Lockhart? pic.twitter.com/cV7oXoDZmO

— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) March 17, 2020

The leaked document also mentions a Lockhart profiling mode. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s Xbox plans tell The Verge that this special Lockhart mode is part of the Xbox Series X developer kit. The devkit, codenamed Dante, allows game developers to enable a special Lockhart mode that has a profile of the performance that Microsoft wants to hit with this second console. We understand that includes 7.5GB of usable RAM, a slightly underclocked CPU speed, and around 4 teraflops of GPU performance. The Xbox Series X includes 13.5GB of usable RAM, and targets 12 teraflops of GPU performance.

Developers will be able to use this Lockhart mode to test their games against this performance profile and do validation checks. Microsoft is expected to position its Lockhart console for 1080p or 1440p gaming, two of the most popular resolutions used by PC gaming monitors currently.

The leaked Microsoft document mentions multiple Project Scarlett consoles.

While Microsoft hasn’t acknowledged Lockhart, the codename can also be found in the company’s Xbox One operating system, alongside references to Anaconda and Dante. We understand this second next-gen Xbox console will launch alongside the Xbox Series X providing Microsoft doesn’t cancel it at the last minute. Lockhart will likely be named “Xbox Series S,” which explains why Microsoft trademarked the “Xbox Series” branding.

This second Xbox console will be key to Microsoft’s pricing strategy for the next generation of consoles. The company has already committed to introducing its Xbox All Access subscription for the Xbox Series X, a bundle that includes a console, Xbox Live, and Xbox Game Pass for a monthly fee. “Xbox All Access is going to be critical to both our launch for Xbox Series X as well as just the overall generation,” said Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s Xbox chief, in a Game Lab Live keynote earlier this week.

Microsoft currently offers an Xbox One S All Digital Edition subscription for $19.99 a month that includes Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. It’s reasonable to imagine that this Lockhart console will be offered in a similar way to entice people into Microsoft’s subscription offerings. Microsoft is also bundling its Project xCloud game streaming technology into Xbox Game Pass later this year, in yet another effort to bolster its subscription service.

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