Microsoft makes all major events online-only until June 2021

Flagship conferences, including Ignite 2020 and Build 2021, put under lockdown due to COVID-19

Large Microsoft sign on a show floor at Ignite 2019

Microsoft will shift a number of its key events to digital platforms due to the coronavirus outbreak with the industry giant planning to resume normal service from June 2021, as things stand.

Plans are underway to transform internal and external events, including Ignite 2020 and Build 2021, into digital-only conferences throughout its 2021 fiscal year, which begins in July 2020 and ends the following June, according to ZDNet.

Build 2020 and Ignite 2020 have already been confirmed as having been moved online, with each event’s respective websites outlining digital agendas and programmes. 

The former, set to take place from 19-21 May, attracts developers and architects from across the world for workshops and keynotes about the future of development tools, cloud hosting, data, AI and more topics. 

The latter event, meanwhile, is Microsoft’s flagship conference from which it releases major news and updates for a number of its platforms. This will take place online in September.

IT Pro approached Microsoft to confirm whether or not its future events through to June 2021 would shift to become “digital experiences”, as reports suggest. The company said it would respond to these requests for comment as soon as possible.

Cancelling in-person events and shifting them to become online-only instead for such a long period would be the most cautious approach any tech company has taken so far during the coronavirus pandemic.

The cancellation of Mobile World Congress (MWC) in February effectively rang the death knell for the 2020 conference season, with many events since shifting online or being cancelled entirely. 

The cancellations have continued into spring with Google recently canning its I/O developers’ event, while indefinitely postponing Google Cloud Next 2020, originally due to be held this month.

A host of companies, meanwhile, are monitoring the state of the global COVID-19 outbreak before making a final decision closer to when their events are scheduled to be held. 

The organisers AWS re:invent, for instance, which is normally held right at the end of each year, have issued no updates yet as to whether or not the event will go ahead. 

Microsoft’s reported decision to simply scrap all in-person events for the next year-plus may be considered a sensible precaution, given the global scientific community has still not yet established whether coronavirus will make a resurgence in the form of a second wave of infections, as past pandemics have done.

It may prove more efficient for the company to move all its events online during the next fiscal year, given the uncertainty. The alternative would be committing exorbitant sums of money for venues, hotel reservations, and other expenses, only to retreat from these commitments should the pandemic continue to rage in 2021. 

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