Microsoft Build 2020 conference canceled, goes virtual instead

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With all the news, cancellations, and suspensions of all sporting events, films, and the normal life as we knew it, it’s perhaps no surprise that Microsoft’s Build event – slated for May 19–21 in Seattle, Washington – is getting nixed.

In a statement to the Verge the company cites the recommendations for Washington State, which banned all public events over 250 people, and concerns for its community as the top reasons.

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.

Instead of an in-person event, Microsoft instead is looking to make it virtual, like its recent change for the Microsoft MVP summit and the E3 gaming event in June. Microsoft employees have been working from home since last week, and it has affected the release of the Windows 10 20H1 OS update, pushing the date back by weeks.

Microsoft Build is an annual event that focuses primarily on developers, including introducing new tools, development, and future roadmaps for software development. While in the past, it has focused a lot on the Windows OS, it recently began shifting focus to other growing technologies like Azure, IoT, holographic, cloud data, and cross-platform software development.

For 2020, there was expected to be a focus on dual-screen app development around the forthcoming Surface Neo dual-screen PC running the new Windows 10X operating system, which is due in late 2020. Microsoft recently updated the SDK and emulator for developers in anticipation of its release.

Microsoft is one of many companies pulling back on its major software events. Google canceled IO over a week ago, which at the time almost seemed premature, but now prescient.

Going virtual seems like an appropriate solution for Microsoft and other tech vendors. Still, the lack of one-on-one interactions and side meetups is a necessary component to such communities. Although the loss of Microsoft Build is significant, it is the right move as the United States, and other countries alter behavior to prevent the spreading of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

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