Microsoft launched Xbox Live to much fanfare in 2002, and the initial hype seems justified. By 2019, the number of users reached 65 million [source: Microsoft]. Although the services that make up the service change over the years, Xbox Live's core purpose — to connect gamers with one another to play games together — remains the same.
Gaming industry experts agree that Xbox Live was a key factor in the success of online gaming in the 2000s. From its earliest days, Xbox Live let you read email, watch movies, listen to music and share photos from your Xbox console. By 2011, Xbox Live allowed users to stream media, sync online payment services and connect with major social networks.
By 2020, Microsoft focused Xbox Live mostly on networking with other gamers. A new service called Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offers more features that partner well with the Xbox Live service. What do users get out of the Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass experience? How do you start using Xbox Live? Let's first look at the basics and how you can get in on the action.