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Microsoft Build 2020 gets canceled, becomes a digital event in lieu of coronavirus

Build Logo
Build Logo (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft Build 2020 in-person event is canceled.
  • A virtual event will take its place.
  • Concern over the coronavirus pandemic and safety are the reasons.

With all the news, cancellations, and suspensions of all sporting events, films, and the normal life as we knew it, it's perhaps no surprise that Microsoft's Build event – slated for May 19–21 in Seattle, Washington – is getting nixed.

In a statement to the Verge the company cites the recommendations for Washington State, which banned all public events over 250 people, and concerns for its community as the top reasons.

The safety of our community is a top priority. In light of the health safety recommendations for Washington State, we will deliver our annual Microsoft Build event for developers as a digital event, in lieu of an in-person event. We look forward to bringing together our ecosystem of developers in this new virtual format to learn, connect and code together. Stay tuned for more details to come.

Instead of an in-person conference, Microsoft is looking to make it virtual, like its recent change for the Microsoft MVP summit and the E3 gaming event in June. Microsoft employees have been working from home since last week, and it has affected the release of the Windows 10 20H1 OS update, pushing the date back by weeks.

Microsoft Build is an annual event that focuses primarily on developers, including introducing new tools, development, and future roadmaps for software development. While in the past, it has focused a lot on the Windows OS, it recently began shifting attention to other growing technologies like Azure, IoT, holographic, cloud data, and cross-platform software development.

For 2020, there was expected to be some deep dives on dual-screen app development around the forthcoming Surface Neo dual-screen PC running the new Windows 10X operating system, which is due in late 2020. Microsoft recently updated the SDK and emulator for developers in anticipation of its release.

Microsoft is one of many companies pulling back on its major software events. Google canceled IO over a week ago, which at the time almost seemed premature, but now prescient.

Going virtual seems like an appropriate solution for Microsoft and other tech vendors. Still, the lack of one-on-one interactions and side meetups is a necessary component to such communities. Although the loss of Microsoft Build is significant, it is the right move as the United States, and other countries alter behavior to prevent the spreading of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Daniel Rubino
Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

9 Comments
  • There goes hopes for a 'developer edition' early release for Surface Duo :-(
    Well I suppose one must be alive first to explore the tech so maybe a holiday 2020 event for new hardware stuff?? Hopefully the COVID19 wave is past by then..
  • Will it be free or reduced-price ?
  • I would assume free since all the recordings have been made available for free in the past anyway. I am an attendee but I have not received an official email from Microsoft yet.
  • Welp, my university finally pulled the trigger and moved all our classes to remote teaching (via Cisco Webex) for the rest of the semester, starting after spring break. Speaking of remote teaching, remote meetings and remote work, I wonder if WC would write something about software, particularly MS software, that could help. I'm thinking Office, Teams and Whiteboard specifically. And on another tangent, for those of you working at home more these days, photography-oriented YouTubers Tony & Chelsea Northrup have a new video out with tips on working from home. It's good for photographers and non-photographers alike.
  • "I wonder if WC would write something about software, particularly MS software, that could help. I'm thinking Office, Teams and Whiteboard specifically."
    I do believe we have a few articles coming on this topic, yes.
  • Cool! Thanks DR + team.
  • How will they handle exams?
  • I hope they use Mixer platform for this since it'll allow interactions with the audiences.
  • And i was thinking why no one is doing in it virtually, that would work too.