GamesPaper believes that the next version of Xbox Live is to be rolled out in to service by the end of March, and will feature a number of new services including the ability for voice and text messaging, and clan style team management.

In an email sent to Xbox Live subscribers tonight, Microsoft say that "The Terms of Use for the Xbox Live Service will be changing effective with the next version release of Xbox Live, anticipated for the end of March" - the biggest confirmation that we've seen yet of the planned upgrade to the service.

Recent days have seen a number of websites reporting that the new version of the broadband gaming service, which is codenamed "Tsunami", however we bought news of the new features here on GamesPaper nearly a month ago. Specific details of the upgraded features are still to be confirmed, and aren't likely to be known until nearer the official release, but it's widely expected that both voice and text messaging will be integrated in to the service to allow messages to be stored online for collection by gamers on your friends list when they next log on to the service, and also being able to send game invites to MSN Messenger, as announced by Microsoft at E3 last year.

Other improvements include the ability for clan style teams, which will provide a way to run organised tournaments and competitions, and it's also thought that new Xbox Live titles will make use of a small amount of online storage which will allow gamers to save data across multiple sessions, and possibly even save personalised artwork such as a car colour scheme and team roster details.

Update: Microsoft have confirmed to us a number of the features which will be part of the "Tsunami" upgrade:

  • Gamers will be able to easily form teams and notify them of matches, strategies and even upcoming competitions.
  • "Tsunami" will allow existing Xbox Live subscribers to engage more with their Xbox Live community by extending the invitation and presence systems beyond the console - now gamers can check to see what their friends are playing on Live while on their PC.
  • Empowers gamers to easily create their own tournaments while in-game - as easy as creating, inviting and playing for all their favorite games across any game genre.
  • Allows gamers to create and share mottos, emblems, and custom content and create and update maps, rosters, and other environment data. In essence, this will allow gamers to personalize their teams while playing on custom-made maps.
No official date during March has been set for the upgrade to take place, but just as soon as we receive any further confirmation from Microsoft, we'll let you know.

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