Microsoft's 'Arcadia' team is building a streaming app and game service

Microsoft's Operating Systems Group is staffing up a new team that is building an app and game streaming service for the company's 'core platforms.'
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

As Microsoft officials themselves have said, as Windows moves forward, Microsoft is looking at services connected to the operating system to monetize it.

Some of those services are available today, such as OneDrive, Xbox Live and Office 365. But there are more to come. And one of those is something codenamed "Arcadia."

(Thanks to @h0x0d on Twitter for asking me about the codename and providing a pointer to a Microsoft job post mentioning it.)

Arcadia, according to my sources, is the technology being developed by a new streaming team in Microsoft's Operating Systems Group. The Arcadia technology replaces the discontinued "Rio" game-streaming technology which Microsoft demonstrated at the company's annual meeting in September 2013.

Arcadia, which is being built on Microsoft's Azure cloud, according to sources, will stream not just games, but also certain apps.

One of my sources says that Microsoft officials considered using Arcadia to allow users to stream Android apps and games on their Windows devices. As we've known for a while, Microsoft's Operating Systems Group has been mulling the wisdom of enabling Android apps to run on Windows devices and phones in an attempt to eliminate the app gap between Windows and other mobile platforms. But my source says that Android-app -streaming idea has been tabled -- though the idea of running Android apps in some way on Windows devices is still not dead.

The Microsoft job post for a Senior Software Engineer which mentions the Arcadia codename is quite vague:

"The Operating Systems Group (OSG) Arcadia team is leveraging many new app technologies to bring premium and unique experiences to Microsoft's core platforms. We are looking for bright, talented engineers to help the next big thing for Microsoft.

"The ideal candidate is self-motivated, experienced, driven, collaborative, and flexible. The candidate seeks the simplest and most elegant solution to complex technical and business challenges. The candidate has a 'get it done' attitude, but ensured that quality is never compromised. Working on a 'v1' product team should excite you and motivate you to ship something that's never been shipped before."

As h0x0d noted, there's another recent Microsoft job post that omits the Arcadia codename, but also mentions the new Streaming team:

"The new Operating Systems Group (OSG) Streaming team is leveraging the cloud to bring premium and unique experiences to Microsoft's core platforms. These experiences take advantage of a new geo-distributed massively scaling service to redefine what is possible on today's devices.

"The client team is building the user facing application(s), bridging the service and devices together seamlessly. Our team is a small but growing and dedicated to solving one of Microsoft's biggest business challenges in a creative fashion."

Both job posts mention experience on non-Microsoft operating systems, including iOS and Android, as a plus. Given Microsoft's cross-platform push these days, this could mean the Arcadia streaming service will run on non-Windows devices. Or it could just mean Microsoft is looking for folks who have iOS/Android app know-how to assist with bringing this kind of service and these apps to Windows.

I don't think Microsoft will demonstrate or discuss Arcadia at its upcoming consumer-focused Windows 10 reveal event on January 21. In spite of Xbox chief Phil Spencer being on the speaker list, I'd think it might be a bit early in the development cycle for Microsoft to take the wraps off Arcadia. My bet is Arcadia is a post-Windows 10 deliverable. (Windows 10 is due to launch by fall 2015.)

As to the significance (if any) of the codename, Arcadia does have -- like a number of recent Microsoft Operating Systems Group codenames -- a Halo tie-in. (Arcadia is a United Earth Government Colony in Halo, according to the Halo Nation Wikia.) Or it may refer to the Arcadia region in Greece, in keeping with Microsoft's use of geographic places for codenames.

Update: Neowin recently wrote about a Microsoft Research project, known as DeLorean, that is/was focused on cloud-based gaming. I don't know whether this technology has been or will be folded into Arcadia, but it's an interesting thought...

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