Microsoft introduced Xbox Live at the tail end of the original Xbox, but it was on the Xbox 360 that it became the fleshed out, fully featured online service that we know today.
Now that more and more console features are internet dependent, a strong web connection, as well as buying into the console's online service, is basically a requirement.
Paying for an Xbox Live Gold account has always been necessary to take your Xbox games online. That was a major edge for the PS3, which gave away this functionality, but now Sony has taken the same approach and put the PS4's multiplayer behind a paywall. It does not, however, make you buy in to access Netflix and other streaming services.
The Xbox One still requires you to meet the $80 price tag before you can have access to video services, which is getting harder to justify since it's the pricier of the two consoles. And now that the Xbox One has more online features, there's even more that's walled off until you pay up. Uploading from Game DVR and cloud saves are not available without Gold.
Your account from the Xbox 360 will carry over to the Xbox One and for better or worse, Xbox Live is still basically the same service we knew from the 360. You can message friends, join groups for voice chat and jump right into a game. While you can still type up messages, Microsoft no longer lets you record and send audio messages.
At least you're now paying for local Australian servers. With Microsoft's Azure servers in Sydney and Melbourne now launched, Xbox Live users should find themselves having a much better online experience. Online matches in games are now more likely to default to an Australian connection, rather than an international Azure connection in Asia.
Regardless, connections to Live have been fairly stable since launch, not buckling under the pressure of the day one launch crowd. We were able to play online co-op in Dead Rising 3 as well as fight online in Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts without a snag. Mic chat through the included headset was sharp, even clearer than on the Xbox 360.
Downloading a digitally purchased game from Xbox Live is just as swift as on Sony's servers. Games can be played in mid-download, letting you dive into titles before the massive files finishes arriving.
Game DVR functionality is still great, and now that Xbox One has Twitch capabilities, all of your options for uploading game video are covered. Your friends list is also no longer buried away in the system's interface. And, you can still upload files to SkyDrive to share on YouTube.
Microsoft also has its own PS Plus equivalent with Games with Gold, which finally gives Xbox One owners with Xbox Live subscriptions free games each month. While PlayStation 4 owners have had more games given to them, there have been a handful of quality titles on offer on Xbox One, such as Volgarr the Viking, Chariot and Powerstar Golf.