I got a question from someone recently asking what the naming convention we have been using for Visual Studio represents.  Is Orcas a character in Lord of the Rings? Answer: No.  Here's the real answer: The versions of Visual Studio represent cities/islands in the Northwest that are progressively farther away from Redmond, WA.

  • Visual Studio .NET 2003: Codenamed Everett is on the mainland 
  • Visual Studio "Whidbey" is an island a little farther away
  • Visual Studio "Orcas" is also an island farther away then Whidbey. 

For more information on what's coming in Whidbey and Orcas, check out the Visual Studio Roadmap or come to PDC :)

Other snippets you may not know:

  • The next version of Windows, codenamed "Longhorn" is named after a now infamous bar close to Whistler and Blackcomb ski resorts.
  • The well-known Microsoft Duwamish Books Sample: Duwamish is the name of a native american tribe in the pacific northwest.
  • Seattle: Seattle is named after the chief of the suqamish indian tribe.  Here are some chief Seattle quotes brought to you by Google.  

 [Update] Adding a site with accurate chief Seattle quotes thanks to Eric.