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Microsoft Arcadia to stream 3D games to Windows devices

Low-powered Windows devices to get 3D games and possibly Android apps, too

Microsoft is reportedly working on a new games streaming service, codenamed Arcadia. The service could allow users to stream demanding 3D games to low-powered Windows PCs and tablets, eradicating the need to have top-notch graphics hardware to play the latest titles.

The service will be based on Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform and could be one of the big new features of Windows 10, which is due out next year. Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley says the technology might not only be used to stream games, but regular apps. Microsoft is even considering streaming Android apps to Windows tablets and phones, in a bid to close the widening gap between Windows and Android/iOS, which have much greater support from app developers. 

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The company has already started recruiting staff to work on Arcadia. A job advert for a senior software engineer states: “The Operating Systems Group (OSG) Arcadia team is leveraging many new app technologies to bring premium and unique experiences to Microsoft’s core platforms.” Whilst the advert doesn’t specify exactly what Arcadia is, it says that “working on a ‘v1’ product team should excite you and motivate you to ship something that’s never been shipped before”.

Microsoft is set to reveal more about the consumer features of Windows 10 in an event on 21 January, although it’s uncertain whether Microsoft will use that opportunity to talk about Arcadia, or hold it back for the full launch of the operating system, which is likely to be next autumn. The Arcadia technology could also be used on Microsoft’s Xbox One console, potentially providing a way to offer backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 titles.

It’s not the first time Microsoft has worked on games streaming. The company last year ran an internal demonstration of Halo 4 being streamed to a Surface tablet and Windows Phone, using a now discontinued technology codenamed Rio. Arcadia may pick up the pieces. 

Microsoft’s not the only company working on games streaming, either. The much hyped Steam OS will allow gamers to stream games from other PCs in the home to a low-powered machine that sits under the TV. Indeed, the Steam desktop client already allows you to stream games from one device to another on the home network, with all the graphics processing done on the more powerful machine. Nvidia is also said to be working on an Android-based device that will allow people to stream PC games from a remote server, similar to Microsoft’s proposition. 

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