The main compromise with the cheaper Xbox Series S versus the Series X is the lack of a disc drive, but Microsoft might have a solution. It has patented an external disc drive (via GameRant), which would allow the digital-only Series S to read physical game discs. This would effectively let you play disc-based games through the console.
How? By validating your ownership of a physical game to then let you access a digital version online. So while it wouldn't play the game straight from the disc, it would let you enjoy the same experience by routing it online.
The system would involve two devices – one with an optical disc drive to read the game disc and connect to Xbox servers to confirm your ownership, and one to download the digital copy.
In the patent, Microsoft says the main use would be backwards compatibility, as it would allow Xbox gamers with a stacked library of physical game discs from older generation consoles to enjoy those titles on their disc drive-less Xbox Series S.
It's likely the system would be able to check if a game had already been verified, in order to prevent digital piracy. Otherwise, you could simply borrow a game disc from someone and download a digital version to keep in your library forever.
As ever with patents, there is no mention when it could become reality, if it ever does. Much is still up in the air, but it looks like a promising step for anyone with a large library of game discs they want to continue enjoying.
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