Coronavirus: Microsoft cancels biggest event of the year and will hold it ‘virtually’ instead

Company will organise a 'digital event' to show off software updates and new products

Andrew Griffin
Friday 13 March 2020 14:24
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Larry Bowles, an equipment service worker for King County Metro, sprays Virex II 256, a disinfectant, throughout a metro bus at the King County Metro Atlantic/Central operating base on March 4, 2020 in Seattle, Washington
Larry Bowles, an equipment service worker for King County Metro, sprays Virex II 256, a disinfectant, throughout a metro bus at the King County Metro Atlantic/Central operating base on March 4, 2020 in Seattle, Washington

Microsoft has cancelled its biggest event of the year because the spread of coronavirus.

It will instead hold its annual developer conference, called Build, as a "digital event".

It comes after Facebook and Google also cancelled their developer events and committed to hold them virtually instead. Apple has not announced its annual Worldwide Developers Conference event, but that is also widely expected to be postponed or cancelled.

The firms have instead said they will hold the events virtually, allowing participants and the press to watch events from home, over the internet.

The Microsoft Build conference had been scheduled to take place between May 19 and 21 in Seattle and is traditionally used to unveil updates to Windows software, as well as new computing hardware.

Microsoft said in a statement it was following health and safety recommendations to help prevent the further spread of the Covid-19 virus.

"The safety of our community is a top priority," a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

"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 community of developers in this new virtual format to learn, connect and code together.

"Stay tuned for more details to come."

Microsoft's announcement continues following the cancellation of E3 – the annual video games convention in Los Angeles, which had been scheduled for June and attracts around 100,000 visitors. The company had been expected to show off its new Xbox Series X at the gaming conference.

Google and Facebook have also cancelled their developer conferences, which had been due to take place in May, with both now expected to have online events instead.

On Thursday, Twitter confirmed it had made it mandatory for all staff globally to work from home as it increased its efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

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