Xbox Live is being rebranded 18 years after it was introduced

The times they are a-changin, and as Microsoft dives into the next generation with two new consoles, a subscription service, and even cloud streaming in tow, it seems the company has decided that the brands of old could use with a bit of refreshing. Microsoft has announced that it is rebranding Xbox Live, though that branding won't be going away entirely after this move. In fact, Microsoft seems to be rebranding Xbox Live as an effort to distinguish Xbox's online systems from the Xbox Live membership.

From here on out, Xbox Live will be known as Xbox network, and there are already references to this change popping up for Xbox Insiders. With this change, it sounds like Microsoft is planning to keep the Xbox Live branding for Gold memberships, while everything else about the online service will pick up that Xbox network branding.

It's a little bit confusing, but a Microsoft spokesperson explained the company's mentality in a statement to The Verge. "'Xbox network' refers to the underlying Xbox online service, which was updated in the Microsoft Services Agreement," the spokesperson said. "The update from 'Xbox Live' to 'Xbox network' is intended to distinguish the underlying service from Xbox Live Gold memberships."

Both the online service and the membership to it have carried the Xbox Live moniker nearly since the original Xbox was introduced. While the Xbox didn't have online service when it launched in November 2001, the rollout of Xbox Live didn't follow too far behind. Ultimately, it took Microsoft a year to get Xbox Live up and running on the original Xbox, and we've had it ever since.

While this is a big branding change for Microsoft, it doesn't seem like it's going to lead to any noticeable change for end-users. Still, even though Xbox Live branding will be hanging around in some capacity, it's hard to deny that this is the end of an era.