Xbox 'Project Scarlett:' 5 things we want to see in Microsoft's next-gen console

Xbox Project Scarlett E3 2019
Xbox Project Scarlett E3 2019 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft has officially announced "Project Scarlett", the codename for the next-generation Xbox expected to launch next fall. Not much was revealed about the console other than the fact that it'll be the most powerful Xbox yet, targeting 4K 60 frames per second (FPS) across the board and capable of 8K in the future. Just like the Project Scorpio teaser for the Xbox One X, Microsoft didn't even show us what the console looks like or give it an official name.

With that in mind, here are five things I'm hoping to see with the next Xbox. This list doesn't include the obvious, such as high-framerate and high-resolution gaming, more exclusives, and all that jazz. We're looking at the lesser-thought-about features and ideas that could make the next-gen Xbox stand out more than the competition.

Biometric authentication on Xbox

One of the best things the Xbox One can do is automatically log you into your Xbox account using the Kinect sensor. This is a great bio-authentication feature if you're someone who uses a shared Xbox in the living room. Instead of typing a password or passkey every time you want to log in, you just walk or sit in front of your TV. The Xbox sees you, and you're logged in. While it's unlikely the Kinect will be supported on the next-generation Xbox, it'd be a real shame to lose out on being able to login with your body.

In fact, if the next generation Xbox doesn't support bio-authentication of some kind, I'd call it a step backward. So with Project Scarlett, I'm hoping Microsoft introduces the ability to log in to your account via a fingerprint sensor on the controller, just like on your smartphone or laptop. Fingerprint sensors these days are relatively cheap, and you could embed it into the Xbox Guide button for a seamless experience.

I've raised this idea before and gamers have refuted it, stating that it'd make the console too expensive. Even if that were true, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be supported. To keep prices low, Microsoft could bundle a standard controller in the box, with the fingerprint enabled controller sold separately.

Either way, if there isn't a way to sign into Xbox with your body on the next-generation Xbox, I'll be disappointed.

Don't forget about TV

The Xbox One was marketed as the one box for everything in your living room, and that's precisely what I use it for in 2019. If the next-generation Xbox doesn't continue that trend of supporting everything from TV to gaming, my entire living room experience is about to fall apart. My Xbox One is the hub of all content goes through my TV.

If I'm watching TV, I'm using OneGuide and the passthrough feature on the Xbox One. I'd hate to have to go back to doing things the old-fashion way, turning things off and on individually when you want to watch TV or play a game.

Voice controls!

It'd be such a shame to lose the ability to shout "Xbox on" or "Watch TV" in the next generation Xbox. These days, you can use Xbox commands via Alexa or Cortana on your PC or phone, so the console itself doesn't need a microphone built-in. But it would be a shame if Microsoft removed the ability to control the console with your voice. Let's hope that doesn't happen.

A "PC mode"

This is an interesting idea that I think would please many gamers. Microsoft has already started supporting keyboard and mice in games on Xbox One, and I don't see why the company can't take it a step further by supporting those peripherals throughout the console experience itself with Project Scarlett. Just imagine being able to set up the next generation Xbox on your desk just like a mini PC.

When a keyboard and mouse is connected, the Xbox Dashboard experience could change to be more accommodating of those peripherals, essentially removing the need to have an Xbox controller altogether. You could launch games, and just like on a real PC, the games would just work with your mouse and keyboard. This is technically possible with the new universal shell Microsoft has been building for its new Core OS, which will also run on Project Scarlett.

Upgradable internal storage

This is a pet peeve more than anything, but I've never been satisfied with the internal storage options on the Xbox One. I know you can plug in external drives, but as someone who prides themselves on a clean living room setup, I don't want external drives sitting all over my console. So, with the next generation Xbox, just like the PlayStation 4, I'd love to see the ability to upgrade the internal drive to whatever you want.

What do you want to see?

So that's five things I want to see in the next-generation Xbox. What are you hoping to see? Let us know in the comments.

Excellent and affordable Xbox accessories

Up your Xbox experience with one (or all) of these budget accessories, all of which are approved by the gamers of Windows Central.

PowerA Play & Charge Kit for Xbox One (opens in new tab) ($15 at Amazon)

This charging kit keeps your Xbox One wireless controllers juiced up, and it offers batteries for two controllers. At just $15, this is hands-down our favorite budget charging companion.

ElecGear 4 Port USB Xbox One S Hub (opens in new tab) ($19 at Amazon)

This brilliant little USB splitter hub attaches perfectly to the side of your Xbox One S console. It's ideal for use with chargers, controllers, headsets, and more.

Controller Gear stand (opens in new tab) ($13 at Amazon)

Proudly display your Xbox gamepads with this stylish and functional stand. The licensed design is minimalist and black, and it has a hidden storage compartment, making the price of $13 a real steal.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

29 Comments
  • Just a couple of market standard features: - hdmi ability to switch on Xbox if I select the correspondent hdmi port on my TV (ps4 and Switch and every hdmi device does it)
    - stream games to pc over the internet, not just a local network (even here ps4 does it smoothly)
  • My TV does this fine. I believe it is up to the TV end to support this. Second point was already answered in the E3 announcement.
  • I suspect it's mixed model. The SSD might be M.2 instead of SATA but not very large. It might just need to be large enough to hold one running game or few recent games, and also find a way to optimize the sequence of copying data of new running game from HDD to SSD. There might still be SSD or HDD as storage disk, but the difference might not be that much (depends on the optimization and each game's data storage strategy).
  • Yeah, I was kind of thinking that it could be more like the Intel Optane memory vs an actual storage SSD, but if I'm wrong it will be less than 3TB and maybe even less than 2. I don't think SSDs will be down enough by then.
  • I worked in schools and always thought Xboxes would be good for a cad lab for high school students, prob workout cheaper also.
  • Agree 10000000% on easy, user upgradable, storage. Since 2.5" drives are tiny, maybe a secondary drive area. then keep 64-128GB onboard superfast storage for the OS.
  • everything except the storage sound terrible and I'm glad microsoft will not be repeating the mistakes of the prior generation. yes forget about tv, biometrics, and all that crap. Only focus on what matters: games. games. games....and games.
  • The mistake by Microsoft was not including all the other stuff, but marketing it over gaming. They haven't made that mistake since so I think we are safe. And for the record I use my Xbox One X for everything.
  • PC mode is the only thing here that I can get behind.
    I want a gaming console to be a kick ass gamin console and NOT "part of the entertainment system".
    1) You can already log into the Xbox by selecting "your" controller, so we have instant password less signin at hoe.
    2) I HATE voice activated items since there is enough noise in my environment already, and they often get fooled into thinking an ad/song/game is talking to them ruining the game.
    3) NO, please do not include any TV items in the Xbox, way too many current options worldwide to be best in class without distracting from BE THE BEST DARN GAMING FOCUSED CONSOLE.
    4) Upgrade-able internal storage? Meh. So you throw out the one which came with the device? This requires a drastically better option to replace it, thus is not used by most of the people buying this, thus adding cost for everyone, just because you want a clutter free location. I would like MORE USB ports to allow multiple drives added to the box and allowing all games to be downloaded and ready to go at a moments notice.
  • Upgradable internal storage is an added option you don't need to change it and it doesn't take the option of having external USB ports. Isn't more options to consumers better?
  • None of those things hurt gaming, but for those of us who use them, they massively improve the overall usability of the system. And, when a wife is a factor, getting her on board with an Xbox is a lot easier if she see's some benefits that have nothing to do with gaming. She likes that she can turn off the TV from the other room by just leaning in the door and telling Cortana to shut it off. Plus, living room Skype is fantastic, and that requires a camera and mic in the Xbox, so supporting Windows Hello for anyone who is already using Skype, biometric recognition and voice control via some form Windows Hello camera and decent mic becomes an obvious benefit. If your point is that the cost of the unit needs to be controlled, so every penny of the base model should be focused on gaming, I could support that, as long as these other features are available as options. I'm willing to pay a reasonable extra amount for these on top of a base console, but I won't buy the console at all if it's a major functional downgrade with no option to get these capabilities back.
  • I wonder if Microsoft will ever change the XBox to run Windows 10 and treat the XBox dashboard like Steam's Big Picture Mode.
  • XBOX already runs a version of W