The ongoing coronavirus crisis is continuing to impact tech conferences in a major way, and Microsoft is reportedly considering moving most of its internal and external events planned until June 2021 to a digital format. The Redmond giant already confirmed on the official Ignite website that the September conference will be a digital-only event, and Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet got the following statement from Microsoft:
"In light of the challenges presented by Covid-19, we are adjusting our event calendar and strategy. 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.”
As for next year, Foley said yesterday that "My contacts say Microsoft hasn't decided definitively to make every event in FY'21 digital. It still is looking at participating in person in some third-party events.” The longtime Microsoft follower got a non-committal statement from the company. "We will continue to evaluate the event landscape, but that is what we have to share at this time,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Foley.
The software giant has already cancelled its MVP Summit in Seattle earlier this month, and its annual Build developer conference in May will be a virtual-only event. The company’s Inspire event in Las Vegas also won’t be held in July, and at this time the company is still exploring alternatives to an in-person event.
Microsoft isn’t the only major tech company being forced to change its major public events this year: Apple’s WWDC conference in June will also be a digital-only event, while Google has completely cancelled its I/O developer conference this year. It's hard to know if the conferences industry will ever go back to normal once the coronavirus outbreak is behind us, but Microsoft and its rivals really can't afford to compromise the health and well-being of their customers and partners right now.