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Microsoft’s biggest event of the year goes virtual due to the coronavirus spread

Microsoft’s biggest event of the year goes virtual due to the coronavirus spread


Microsoft’s Build developer event is no longer taking place in Seattle

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Microsoft’s Build developer conference is the latest tech event to be affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The software giant was planning on holding its annual developer conference in Seattle from May 19th to May 21st, but Microsoft has decided to make it a “digital event.” A Microsoft spokesperson sent along this statement:

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.  

Build is one of Microsoft’s biggest news events of the year, despite being primarily focused on developers. The software maker typically uses Build to preview the latest changes to Windows, Office, and other software and services. Microsoft is planning on disclosing more about its dual-screen plans at Build this year, for both Android and Windows 10X.

Microsoft’s cancelation follows Google’s similar move to scrap its own I/O developer event and the many other events, sports seasons, and gatherings that have been canceled. Doing so is an important step in improving public health and stemming the spread of the coronavirus, as Nicole Wetsman explains:

Applying social distancing measures to the extent the system allows, though, is the best defense against the spread of the novel coronavirus, particularly without vaccines or treatments available. The goal isn’t to eliminate the disease entirely, but to keep cases from appearing all at once. During a pandemic, that can mean the difference between a severe outbreak and one that’s more manageable.

How exactly each big tech company will pivot its conference to a virtual one remains to be seen. Summer developer conferences are a place for big keynotes and announcements, but they’re also essential for developers who get a chance to mingle with engineers who work on big platforms and with each other.