Microsoft's Xbox One S All-Digital Edition and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate: Everything we know

The tech giant added a new Xbox to its lineup May 7, and is expanding the online services it offers too.

Ian Sherr Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. At CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
3 min read

Microsoft is expected to announce some changes to its Xbox lineup on Tuesday.


Microsoft is offering a cheaper Xbox and a new game service as it prepares to release an entirely new game console likely sometime next year.

The tech and gaming giant on May 7 released a cheaper version of its Xbox video game console, called the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, for $249. That reduces the suggested retail price by $50, and the way the company did this was by removing the disc drive that's been on every Xbox since the device first released in 2001.

The company also plans to offer a new service called Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which'll combine its Xbox Live Gold social-networking service and Xbox Game Pass game download service for $14.99 per month when it's released later this year.

Here's everything we know so far. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of products or services featured on this page.

The all-digital edition is an Xbox One S without a disc drive

I know, duh. The rub is Microsoft said retailers will still sell games in their stores. Only now, if you want to buy a game for the all-digital edition, you'll be buying a game download code instead.

There are rumors Microsoft is planning to offer a trade-in service in which you'll be able trade a game disc for a download code. But so far, the company hasn't said anything publicly.

Otherwise, the device is a standard Xbox One S with effectively the same design as its more expensive $299 cousin that works with the Xbox One S.

Watch this: Xbox One S: All-Digital Edition drops discs

It comes with three Microsoft games

To sweeten the deal, Microsoft is giving away three of its games along with the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition: the 2016 racing game Forza Horizon 3, the 2018 online multiplayer pirate game Sea of Thieves and the gaming phenomenon Minecraft.

You can't resell or share your 'digital' games

One reason people like game discs is that they can share them with friends or resell them. But you can't do that as easily with "digital" games that are tied to your Xbox account.

Incidentally, Microsoft originally planned a similar set of rules for disc games back when it first announced the Xbox One in 2013. But it eventually bowed to pressure from angry gamers, allowing them to trade and resell discs. That doesn't change if you own a game disc, by the way. You just can't trade or resell a game code.

The Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is basically the Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass mashed together

That means it'll include features of Xbox Live Gold, like being able to play against friends, download free games given away by Microsoft and get occasional discounts. And it'll include features of Xbox Game Pass, which gives access to more than 100 games, such as Minecraft and the epic action series Gears of War.

This isn't the big new Xbox

Microsoft is still working on a brand new upgraded Xbox, which is said to be launching next year. We don't know much about it, but we're starting to hear about what the competing device from Sony will look like. In an interview with Wired published in April, Sony discussed the chips it plans to put in its new PlayStation, also expected sometime next year.

Microsoft is also working on a streaming service, currently called Project xCloud, that'll let you play games over the internet in a way that's similar to how we stream movies on Netflix. That service is expected to launch within the next year or so.

Originally published April 16, 12:32 p.m. PT.
Updates, 3:08 p.m.: Adds details about announcements; May 9: Includes details from launch.