While the main issues of the COVID-19 pandemic are the loss of life and strain on essential services, there have been disruptions across industries. That's certainly the case in the tech industry, where companies have been forced to cancel events. These are small scale problems in the grand scheme, but we're a tech website folks.
We have already seen how Microsoft's events have been postponed or cancelled, while most have moved to virtual events. Perhaps the biggest casualty so far was Build 2020, which will be held virtually.
Now Microsoft is making plans to make all its events virtual until July 2021. Predictions still vary about when the spread of COVID-19 will ease, but it is clear the world won't simply go back to normal. Reflecting that, Microsoft is not expecting to hold a physical event for over a 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.”
Looking ahead, plenty of major conferences will now go digital. After Build 2020, this year's edition of Ignite will not go ahead as planned and will instead be virtual. Ignite is a partner conference that is the largest event Microsoft hosts on its calendar.
Clearly, it also seems like Build 2021 will also be virtual. Microsoft usually hosts its developer conference during April and May. Microsoft's presence at other events, such as Computex 2020 and CES 2021 is also under threat. However, it is unclear if those independent conferences are cancelled or not.
What is clear is Microsoft won't be holding any press events for new products. The company is likely to reveal new Surface devices later in the year. Furthermore, the Surface Duo smartphone and Surface Neo tablet dual-screen devices will have to launch online. Then there's the Xbox Series X, which won't get a grand unveiling in front of the world's press.