Minecraft update 1.7.6 released
Minecraft update 1.7.6 has officially been released. The update contains "some bugfixes, a few updates to make Realms even better... and prepares Minecraft for the renaming feature that will eventually allow you to rename your player." Although the renaming feature is not yet available, today's update takes an "important step" towards it. Also, Mojang has changed the internal handling of player skins to make use of new, improved skin servers.
Last week, Mojang released a pretty lengthy FAQ page answering a few questions players might have regarding the name changing system. As explained, the update provides complete support for identifying players through unique IDs and not by names, so that no matter what a player is called they will remain banned/whitelisted/oped/etc. on servers.
Below are some other answers to questions you may have.
If I ban a player “Foo” and he changes name to “Bar”, will he stay banned?
Yes. Same for whitelisted players and oped players. They also keep their inventory, pets, statistics and everything they own on a server.
Can I steal somebody’s name? Can I call myself “Dinnerbone” too?
No. I am Dinnerbone and names are still unique. You cannot have the same name as another player, they will have to change their name for you to be able to take it.
How will this work with mods? What about my custom stuff on this one modded server?
Ask your mod maker/server owner. They should be able to support this system easily, but we aren’t responsible for mods or servers!
Can I already change my name? Where do I go? Will it cost? How often can I do it?
We will enable name changing when we feel that enough users are using 1.8 or higher, so that servers have time to switch to the new player formats. We do not have any details on how name changes will be performed or any restrictions that will be required to actually perform a name change. We want it to be easy and freely available, but we also don’t want people changing their name every 5 minutes!
So where do I change my name?
Read the previous answer!
Mojang notes that the 1.7.6 version is not compatible with 1.7.5 (or earlier) servers, so make sure you update your severs. "This is also an important step to prepare them for the upcoming 1.8 release. Servers should automatically update all player profiles to the new format, but please make sure that you are in the correct server mode (online mode/offline mode) when you start the 1.7.6 server for the first time, because profiles are not compatible between these two server modes."