Microsoft is planning to make all of its internal and external events digital-only until July 2021 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The software maker had already revealed Build 2020, due to be held in Seattle in May, would transform into a digital event. This digital-only focus is now extending to far more events over the next year.
“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,” explains a recent email to Microsoft MVPs. “As a company, Microsoft has made the decision to transition all external and internal events to a digital-first experience through July 2021.”
This means Microsoft Ignite will be held as a digital event in September this year, and Microsoft’s presence at Computex 2020, which has been optimistically rescheduled to September, won’t involve an in-person event. It will also impact any plans Microsoft had for CES 2021, and the company’s Build 2021 event. Build is typically held in April or May, which would mean next year’s event will also be digital-only.
Microsoft also canceled its in-person Inspire event for partners that was due to be held in July. The company is still working out whether this will also become a digital event or not. ZDNet reports that Build typically has around 5,000 attendees, inspire as many as 40,000, and Ignite around 25,000, so the impact of the decision is significant. Don’t expect to see any in-person Surface hardware events this year, either.
Microsoft will now be relying on its own digital events team and increasingly Microsoft Teams to allow the company to hold events like Build 2020 remotely while the majority of employees are still sheltering at home.