Due to the spread of Novel Coronavirus, Microsoft has already canceled both the MVP Summit and its GDC briefing in favor of virtual events. Many have now been wondering if Build 2020, which is set for May 19-21 would be canceled, too.
Although an official decision has not been made yet on that front, the company recently updated its Build 2020 webpage with a message about Coronavirus, saying it will "monitor and make any necessary changes as the situation evolves." Here's the statement:
In light of the global health concerns due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Microsoft is monitoring public health guidance in relation to in-person events. At this time, global health authorities have not issued guidance to avoid travel to this location. We are looking carefully at our event calendar as well as our presence at industry events in the coming months. We are not taking decisions lightly, but the health and well-being of our employees, partners, customers and other guests remain our ultimate priority.
We will continue to monitor and make any necessary changes as the situation evolves.
March 2, 2020
Currently, Coronavirus is spreading across the Seattle area, and many Microsoft watchers like Paul Thurrott are doubtful about the status of Build. However, as Microsoft states on the webpage, global health authorities have not yet issued guidance to avoid travel to Seattle, Washington. The company instead insists that it is "monitoring public health guidance in relation to in-person events" and is "looking carefully at [the] event calendar as well as [the] presence at industry events in the coming months."
While it is still two months out, canceling Build could likely be a huge logistics nightmare for Microsoft. In the statement on the page, the Redmond giant insists it does not take decisions lightly, and wants to put the health and well-being of employees, partners, customers, and other guests first.
There's been some talk of MVPs, especially if they can't get refunds for their travel and accommodations, to head to Seattle/Redmond anyway. In a reply to a tweet related to the MVP Summit, former Windows Insider chief Dona Sarkar said that people should not be planning to visit Microsoft's campus, as the company will be locking down visitations with "tons of people working from home."
Coronavirus is definitely shaking up the conference industry for sure, even outside of Microsoft. Google recently announced it would be re-imagining its Cloud Next ’20 conference as a free, global, digital-first, multi-day event. Adobe also canned its annual summit in Las Vegas in favor of an online event. And, outside of the United States, Microsoft canceled its Ignite Tour in Zurich.