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earlier today via The Consumerist stated Microsoft had stopped offering free boxes to consumers to ship dead Xbox 360 consoles to replacement centers was recently cleared up.
Here's the official statement:
"Reports that Microsoft now requires consumers to find their own packaging for sending product to Xbox 360 customer support are inaccurate.
Our policy allows customers to choose whether they would like Microsoft to ship them a box and shipping label or print an electronic label and ship their console using their own packaging in an effort to speed up the repair process." – Microsoft Spokesperson
There you have it, if your system dies - hopefully sometime within the three-year warranty - Microsoft will still give you a free box, complete with packaging, to send your Xbox 360 off to virtual heaven.