Microsoft Build 2020 goes online-only amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Microsoft is keen to go ahead with this year’s Build conference, but the event will now be online-only, the company confirmed on Friday. Build was scheduled to take place in Seattle from May 19 to May 21. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced Microsoft to go completely digital instead.

Microsoft’s announcement came just before Apple announced that WWDC 2020 will also go ahead with “an all-new online format.”

“The safety of our community is a top priority,” reads a Microsoft statement issued to The Verge. “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.”

Build 2020 is the latest in a string of big tech events that have been forced to adjust or cancel during the coronavirus outbreak, which continues its worldwide spread. There are now more than 1,600 confirmed cases in the U.S. alone as of Friday morning, and almost 137,000 worldwide.

Build 2020 goes digital

Adobe has already confirmed that its annual Summit, which typically attracts around 16,000 attendees, won’t go ahead this year. South by Southwest has also been canceled. Google I/O, scheduled to kick off on May 12, will be online-only. E3 2020, which was due to go ahead in Las Vegas in June, has been scrapped — but could host an online event later.

An Apple source revealed to Cult of Mac on Tuesday that its unannounced March event, which would have made the rumored iPhone SE 2 official, has been delayed indefinitely. There’s more promising news for WWDC 2020, however. Apple has now revealed that its event will go ahead — but will follow an online-only format.

Build is Microsoft’s own WWDC. It’s where developers get together to see previews of big changes planned for Microsoft software and services, including Office and the Windows operating system. This year’s event will also bring further details on Microsoft’s exciting plans for dual-screen Windows devices.

Fighting COVID-19

Moving events of this kind online, and avoiding mass gatherings, is an essential step in the effort to minimize the COVID-19 spread, health experts say. It’s impossible to eliminate the disease entirely at this point; the goal now is to prevent the outbreak from becoming much more severe.

“The health and well-being of our customers, partners, guests, suppliers, and employees remain our ultimate priority,” reads an announcement on the Microsoft Build website. “We will continue to monitor and make any necessary changes as the situation evolves.”

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