More than a few of the thousands who have attended recent Microsoft Build conferences often lamented about the lack of developer content at a show billed as a developer event. But this year's Build -- which will be a free, virtual-only event happening May 19 and May 20 -- is going to be all about developers.
Up until the COVID-19 coronavirus caused the company to cancel all its first-party events for the rest of this calendar year and up until June 30, 2021, Microsoft used its three primary conferences as catch-all events for all kinds of news. Build, Inspire (its partner show in the summer), and Ignite (its IT pro event in the fall) were meant as much for non-attendees and media as attendees. Almost any kind of announcement and content was shoehorned into these events, as long as it made them glitzy enough to compete with comparable events from competitors. Or at least that's what it felt like to me and other attendees.
This year's Build won't be about new sweeping strategies. It will focus on more practical tools, services, and resources for developers, with some sessions live and others prerecorded. Topics will still include the full gamut: Microsoft 365; Project Cortex, Microsoft's knowledge-management service under development; IoT and edge computing; Power Platform; and bots and AI. But these all will be very much about APIs and ways developers can build for these platforms. Who knows: Maybe there will even be more about building for Windows with some new WinUI 3.0 and maybe even Windows 10X single-screen dev content, too. Windows devs can dream, anyway.
Consequently, the word is there won't be a long visionary keynote from CEO Satya Nadella kicking things off; expect a much shorter SatyaNote (maybe with "digital transformation" only uttered two or three times instead of some never-ending number). Other execs on tap to talk to the troops include Chief Technology Officer Kevin Scott, who will do more of an AI and futuristic look-ahead keynote on Day 2; Cloud and AI chief Scott Guthrie (yes, he's still alive, in spite of a lack of recent public-facing engagements); Experiences and Devices chief Rajesh Jha and Partner Program Manager Scott Hanselman, among others. Microsoft will open up Build 2020 for online registration on its site later today (April 30). I've asked if those who previously registered and were refunded still need to register, but no word back. The session list for Build will likely be posted closer to the start of the event.