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When the service debuted, it lacked much of the functionality that later titles included, but Xbox Live grew and evolved on the Xbox and many aspects of the service were included with the Xbox 360 console out of the box, rather than through a later update.Microsoft's 5000th patent was Live-related and gave Xbox 360 users access to watch other gamers compete against each other over Xbox Live.A Gamertag is the universal name for a player's username on Xbox Live.A Gamertag used online must be unique and can be up to fifteen characters in length, including numbers, letters, and spaces.In February 2013, Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, shared that Xbox Live members now number 46 million, up 15 percent from a year ago, during the Dive into Media conference in Southern California.In June 2014, Microsoft retracted the Xbox Live Gold requirements to download streaming media apps (including Netflix, Hulu, You Tube, Internet Explorer, Skype, and others), though various rental or subscription fees may still apply.An updated version of the service became available for the Xbox 360 console at the system's launch in November 2005, and a further enhanced version was released in 2013 with the Xbox One.
A player's Gamertag account status can be checked using a variety of online tools, which is useful especially when looking for a new Gamertag, or confirming that a Gamertag exists.
On November 15, 2007, Microsoft celebrated Xbox Live's 5th anniversary by offering its then over 8 million subscribers the title Carcassonne free of charge and awarding gamers who had subscribed to Live since its inception 500 free Microsoft Points.
Due to intermittent service interruptions during late December 2007 and early January 2008, Microsoft promised to offer a free Xbox Live Arcade game to all Xbox Live users as compensation, in an open letter to all Xbox Live members from Mark Whitten, Xbox LIVE General Manager.
Critics scoffed at it, citing poor broadband adoption at the turn of the century.
Xbox Live was finally given a name at E3 2002 when the service was unveiled in its entirety.
As Microsoft developed the original Xbox console, online gaming was designated as one of the key pillars for the greater Xbox strategy.