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Report: Microsoft's 'Arcadia' service will stream games, apps

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Microsoft is building a cloud-based service codenamed "Arcadia" to stream apps and video games, reports ZDNet.

Arcadia is based on Microsoft's cloud computing infrastructure, Azure, and is being developed by a streaming technology team within the company's Operating Systems Group, according to ZDNet. The service is said to replace "Rio," the codename for the game-streaming technology that Microsoft demonstrated during an internal company meeting last September.

The Verge reported at the time that the Rio demo streamed Halo 4 to a Windows Phone device with an Xbox 360 controller attached, and to a low-end computer running Windows. Microsoft had said previously that it was looking into using Azure-based technology to provide backward compatibility on Xbox One, similar to the way Sony's Gaikai-based PlayStation Now works.

Citing an anonymous source, ZDNet reports that Microsoft considered using Arcadia to stream apps as well. A potential use case would give Windows and Windows Phone users the ability to run Android apps and games via streaming, a possibility Microsoft's Operating Systems Group had been exploring for some time. But Microsoft has shelved that idea for now, according to ZDNet.

ZDNet began investigating Arcadia when it was pointed to a Microsoft Careers job posting for a senior software engineer that mentions the codename. The listing specifically calls out the "Arcadia team" within the Operating Systems Group, but is otherwise vague. Qualifications listed on the page include "non-MS platform (Android, iOS) experience" as a "plus," which could signal cross-platform uses for Arcadia.

The name itself comes from the Halo universe: Arcadia is a Unified Earth Government colony that appeared in Halo Wars, according to Halo Nation. That wouldn't be a first for Microsoft, which soft-launched a Siri competitor called Cortana earlier this year on Windows Phone and Windows 8.1.