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Microsoft on Thursday became the latest company to cancel a large annual conference amid COVID-19 concerns, announcing it will nix all in-person portions of the Build 2020 developer conference.
Like other recently canceled tech-related gatherings, Microsoft plans to host a digital summit instead of the regularly scheduled meetup originally planned to take place in Seattle from May 19 to May 21.
The software titan confirmed Build's cancellation in a statement to The Verge.
"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," the company said. "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."
At Build, Microsoft was expected to reveal more information about its hotly anticipated dual-screen software solutions for Android and Windows 10X. The company typically uses the event as a platform to announce updates to its suite of Windows solutions, as well as new products and services.
Today's news arrives as the world faces a full-blown COVID-19 pandemic. Spread of the virus prompted numerous conference cancellations from the likes of Google, Facebook, Adobe and other tech sector players. GSMA was among the first to act by calling off this year's Mobile World Conference in February, which was followed by Facebook's decision to cancel in-person segments of its F8 conference.
In late February, Informa postponed the 2020 Game Developers Conference, while Google 2020 Cloud Next and Adobe Summit announced a shift to digital alternatives in early March. Most recently, Google last week canceled in-person portions of its annual Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View, Calif.
Apple is expected to announce plans for the Worldwide Developers Conference in the coming weeks. The yearly event introduces developers and the public to next-generation operating systems set for release this fall and typically takes place in and around the San Francisco Bay Area, including the company's campus in Cupertino. Thousands of app developers from around the world normally attend the conference, which is regularly sold out.
Given the current situation, the Cupertino tech giant might be forced to hold a virtual WWDC this June, meaning developers could lose out on valuable peer networking and one-on-one time with Apple engineers.