Microsoft has set itself up to save billions by using two fewer letters to refer to its free Xbox Live membership.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it was recently discovered that Microsoft will no longer offer Xbox Live Silver memberships. Being a member of Silver status allowed users to take part in many free Xbox Live features, such as demo downloads, but that status will unfortunately no longer exist. Thankfully, Microsoft has created Xbox Live Free instead, and it's the exact same thing.
Yeah, you can relax, Microsoft is only changing the name. A European Xbox community manager broke the news by tweeting: "Just been told that 'Xbox LIVE Silver Membership' will now officially be called 'Xbox LIVE Free Membership'. The times they are a-changin..." I wouldn't say the times are "a-changin," because the service is apparently exactly the same, but the name is at least "a-changin."
The newly redesigned Xbox website reflects the name change, but the Xbox Live dashboard doesn't just yet. It'd be a safe bet to say that Xbox Live Silver members will become Free members after the upcoming Xbox dashboard update of 2010.
Microsoft is likely changing the name to reduce customer confusion and make it more evident that Free is free, and Gold is not free. Xbox Live Gold, soon to cost another $10 per year on November 1, will still be a required upgrade to play games online and use other services like Netflix. I say why not make things even easier to understand and change Xbox Live Gold to Xbox Live Monetary Cost.