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.
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.