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The Xbox One. (Microsoft Photo)

Several sources, such as Kotaku and The Verge, reported today that Microsoft’s plans for its next-generation Xbox also include a second model, currently codenamed “Lockhart.”

Lockhart is tentatively planned to be a cheaper model without a disc drive, making it a sort of successor to the current All-Digital Edition of the Xbox One. It will also be less graphically powerful and less expensive than the next-gen machine currently known as Project Scarlett, but is planned to support the same games.

This is roughly in keeping with the next-generation roadmap that was first reported late last year by sites like Thurrott, when what’s currently known as Project Scarlett was referred to by the code name “Anaconda.”

As such, Lockhart would be a digital-only content box for downloadable content, the Xbox Game Pass, and presumably game-streaming services like Project xCloud. The Kotaku piece mentions that, like Scarlett/Anaconda and the PlayStation 5, Lockhart would still be planned to feature a solid-state drive, which would dramatically cut down on its games’ loading and installation times.

“Microsoft does not comment on rumors and speculation,” a spokesperson told GeekWire.

The stories about Lockhart mark the first thing that resembles new information about Project Scarlett since Microsoft’s announcement at the E3 conference in June. The company’s games division has been conspicuously quiet about the subject, instead focusing on new releases, such as September’s Gears 5 and the revolving door of surprisingly high-profile titles on the Game Pass.

On the face of it, it does seem like a natural continuation of the current Xbox One game plan. If there’s a single unifying factor in the ninth generation of consoles so far, it’s a drive towards heightened immediacy and accessibility; the advent of solid-state drives as standard kit and cloud-based gaming are both built around minimizing the amount of time you have to wait before you can play a game.

A cheaper version of the Scarlett that sacrifices the top-end graphics and disc drive in favor of affordability would be a useful tool to get more Xboxes into more people’s homes, particularly in the early days of the ninth generation when the consoles’ prices are as high as they’ll ever be. It’d also go a long way toward cementing Microsoft’s current drive to embrace a market model that more closely resembles streaming TV than a traditional video game console.

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