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Microsoft making Build 2021, most other events digital-only for next year (update)

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Microsoft logo (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is moving to make most of its events digital-only for the next year.
  • Ignite 2020 and Build 2021 would be affected.
  • The move would come as more companies are shifting to digital-only events during the current global health crisis.

Microsoft is reportedly set to take most of its events digital through the next year. ZDNet reports that the Microsoft's current plan is to shift to digital events through its 2021 fiscal year, which starts in July 2020. This would impact Ignite 2020 later this year, through the Build 2021 conference which is likely to take place in May.

Updated April 6, 2020: Microsoft has confirmed it is making internal and external events "digital-first" through July 2021 in an email about next year's MVP Summit. The email text, provided by Ginny Caughey on Twitter, reads:

In light of the challenges presented by Covid-19, Microsoft has been closely monitoring the developing global situation and re-assessing the overall company-wide in-person event strategy. As a company, Microsoft has made the decision to transition all external and internal events to digital-first experiences through July 2021. This will include the future MVP & RD Summit which is currently scheduled for March 28-April 2, 2021. We will continue to evaluate the situation and look forward to connecting in person when the situation allows.

The original story, published April 1, 2020, follows.

A Microsoft spokesperson told ZDNet that the company's events through the end of 2020 are planned to go online. "In light of the challenges presented by Covid-19, we are adjusting our event calendar and strategy," the spokesperson said. "For the remainder of 2020 we are embracing the opportunity to experiment with new platforms to provide our partners, customers and developers the highest quality, digital-first experiences."

"We will continue to evaluate the event landscape, but that is what we have to share at this time," the spokesperson said when asked whether the same strategy will apply to the first half of 2021.

The report notes that Microsoft has begun alerting teams internally of its plans to cancel in-person events through its 2021 fiscal year. "The thinking in cancelling so early is the more lead time the company has, the better its virtual events will be," ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley says. However, Microsoft may still participate in-person at some third-party events, the report notes.

The move comes as more companies have shifted their events to online-only affairs amid the current global health crisis. This includes Microsoft, which already canceled its MVP Summit in March. Microsoft also canceled Build 2020 as an in-person event and will hold a digital event in its place. Microsoft also plans to take its E3 2020 Xbox conference digital later this year.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.

5 Comments
  • And so it begins. Companies are starting to realize they don't need to book a huge facility and spend a million bucks for a showcase when they could have a virtual event instead.
  • I personally think this is an abrupt and devastating blow to a whole industry that works on these events. There has been a great increase of quality broadcasting live from these events. But, the venue and live audience and thousands of attendees to a city is a tremendous revenue stream that employs thousands of people.
  • Is Build like WWDC, where people can ask things to Microsoft engineers? If yes, then hopefully they'll come back to a physical event in 2022.
  • I wonder how this will affect tech blogs like this one who normally attend these events in person to cover them?
  • why is Microsoft not using Hololens for its virtual events in the current situations?. They have already showcased features like holo-portation and other stuff about working together in various scenarios with Hololens e.g Doctor assisting operations, factories workers collaborating showcase their work. Or it is just, Hololens still not ready to go mainstream market. Forget consumers meanwhile Apple is working on AR glasses. Let see what happens when they launch and capture the consumer market.