Microsoft announced that previously registered but currently unused Gamertags are being phased back into service starting today.
Remember when you first got your Xbox or Xbox 360, hooked it all up, and got ready to get online? One of the first steps was choosing your Gamertag, the 15 characters of text which would represent your avatar in Xbox dashboards, on your Zune or on the web. Now, after nearly nine years of the Xbox Live service operating, the problem is that, like World of Warcraft, all of the good names are taken. New purchasers of an Xbox 360 are relegated to using arcane combinations of punctuation and numbers like "e71t3ki!!3r" in order to approximate words with any meaning. In order to combat that trend, Major Nelson, aka Xbox Live spokesperson Larry Hyrb, announced today that Microsoft was going to start allowing Gamertags that are no longer active on the service. You can try to change your Gamertag to see if your first choice has now become available.
"Starting today, we have begun the process of making previously used and unavailable (dead) Xbox LIVE Gamertags available. This process will take some time to complete, and no we can't tell you when the Gamertag you want might be available," Nelson said. "If you are interested, you should check back regularly as we are reviving Gamertags daily."
I'm not sure if this initiative will do much to get rid of all the needless punctuation in Gamertags, but it certainly can't hurt.
And just as an FYI, changing your Gamertag won't result in any change to your achievements or GamerScore. So don't worry, you can finally be known as the "Elite Killer" you've always wanted to be without abandoning your Achievement for finishing LEGO Star Wars.
Source: Major Nelson