On November 15, Microsoft will celebrate the fifth anniversary of Xbox Live. In addition, they note that the latest membership figures show more than 8 million members are now actively engaged in the largest social entertainment network on TV. Xbox Live has grown from a small community of gamers in two countries, playing a handful of games online with their friends, to a worldwide social entertainment network offering online access to gaming, music, movies and TV shows. As friends across 26 countries and nine languages have connected on Xbox Live, it is their feedback and active participation that has guided the service to become what Wired magazine recently called "the king of the online arena." As a gesture of thanks to the gaming community, all 8 million members will have the opportunity to download a free Xbox Live Arcade game,* available for downloading between 12:01 a.m. PST on Nov. 15 and 11:59 p.m. PST on Nov. 16.** In addition to this, every active member who joined the service in 2002 will receive 500 free Microsoft Points.

Starting on Dec. 4, all Xbox Live members will receive a free system update with a host of new features and enhancements. Included in this update will be the launch of Xbox Originals, which, for the first time, will enable consumers to download and own full Xbox games, such as "Halo," "Psychonauts," "Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge" and "Fable," among others, directly to their Xbox 360. This new service will launch with an array of blockbuster titles spanning the most popular genres from action-adventure to classic role-playing games.

With no disc necessary, and at just 1,200 Microsoft Points per game, Xbox Live members can easily rediscover these hit titles, or check out a game they missed the first time around. This launch lineup is only the beginning, as Xbox 360 owners can expect to see a growing catalog of Xbox games to download and own over the coming year.

"In just five short years, Xbox Live has revolutionized the way friends and family have fun in the living room," said John Schappert, corporate vice president of Live, software and services at Microsoft. "On its fifth birthday, Xbox Live truly is the place for hanging out with friends and enjoying downloadable TV shows, movies, videos, game add-ons and now downloadable Xbox games on demand."

* Free Xbox LIVE Arcade download includes "Hexic 2" in Korea, and "Carcassonne" in the rest of the world where Xbox Live is available.
** Free download available for 48 hours starting at 12:01 a.m. PST on Nov. 15.