(Pocket-lint) - Microsoft has announced that it is freeing up nearly 1 million Gamertags.

These are Gamertags that were claimed by someone from the original Xbox era but have long since been abandoned. They never migrated to Xbox 360 and have been inactive for a long time. Unfortunately, Microsoft won't share the actual list of Gamertags that'll be made available.

However, the company said there will be many Gamertags available in specific categories, such as: proper names, pop culture references, types of food, geography and travel, science and technology, math and numbers, animals, and "some of the greatest inventions of all time".

So, for those of you who have always wanted a Gamertag like iamcool but got stuck with iamcool99881245, now is your chance to check and see if the Gamertag of your dreams is finally available. But first - here's what you need to about making the change...

What's an Xbox Gamertag?

Since the original Xbox era, Microsoft has allowed Xbox gamers to sign into its Xbox Live online service with a Gamertag.

The company has described Gamertags as "your online alter ego for Xbox," emphasising that it "represents you when you’re playing games and sharing with other people in the Xbox community". You can learn more about Xbox Gamertags from this Microsoft support page.

When will Microsoft release the Gamertags?

Starting 18 May 2016 at 2 pm EST, Microsoft will release nearly 1 million Gamertags over a 24-hour period, giving players in various countries an equal chance to grab the Gamertag of their dreams.

How do you change your Xbox Gamertag?

Microsoft said this is the most convenient way to change your Gamertag:

"Access to these newly-released Gamertags will be available on Xbox.com, which is the most convenient way to make a Gamertag change. Xbox Live Gold members can also access these Gamertags within the Xbox App on Windows 10 and on the Xbox One console. Xbox 360 owners will need to use Xbox.com, the Xbox App on Windows 10, or an Xbox One console to participate given that access to these newly-released Gamertags is not available from an Xbox 360 console. Click here to change your Gamertag on the web." 

Are there any caveats?

Of course. The Gamertags will only be available to players who have "at least 1 year of cumulative" subscription to Xbox Live Gold. To determine if you qualify, view your Profile on an Xbox One console or on the Xbox App on Windows 10.

Will changing your Gamertag affect anything?

Changing your Gamertag will only affect your Gamertag name. It will not impact your Gamerscore, Achievements, or your Friends list.

Want to know more?

Check out Major Nelson's blog post for more details.

Writing by Elyse Betters.