Microsoft has cancelled Inspire 2020 amid escalating Covid-19 concerns, with the world’s largest channel conference exploring alternative arrangements for more than 18,000 attendees.
Originally scheduled for 19-23 July in Las Vegas, the annual event is the largest partner gathering on the channel calendar, bringing in more than 130,000 people from over 150 countries during the past 10 years.
“The safety of our community is a top priority,” a spokesperson for Microsoft stated. “In light of health safety recommendations from public health authorities, we will not be holding Microsoft Inspire 2020 as an in-person event.
“We are exploring alternative ways to bring our partner community together to connect and learn. Stay tuned for more details to come.”
Registrations for the physical event were scheduled to open on 24 March and remain currently available to partners, with all-access passes priced at US$2,295. After three weeks of early pricing, the fee is set increase to $2,595 on 14 April - although in light of recent developments, Microsoft has yet to reveal updated pricing.
Inspire is designed to document Microsoft’s channel strategy for the year ahead, alongside showcasing innovative partners from across the world, backed by structured networking and peer-to-peer learning programs.
Collaborative sessions available span Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider program, to ISV resources, strategies on co-selling and the Microsoft Marketplace, in addition to technical, sales and marketing sessions.
This year was also set to feature The Hub - a centralised expo experience - that offers interactive and personalised experiences to help partners navigate the week of conferencing, with programs and offers also available to attendees at the Partner Network Booth.
"Inspire is my favourite event of the year," wrote Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president of One Commercial Partner at Microsoft, when addressing the channel in late February. "It’s an unmatched opportunity for our partners to hear the latest innovations and strategy from Microsoft leaders, and learn from other partner organisations from around the world."
Despite a lack of clarity on the new approach for Inspire in 2020 at this stage, it appears certain that Microsoft will maintain a commitment to "creating an earth-friendly event", having partnered with select organisations in 2019 to meet target initiatives on wellness and sustainability.
"One example in 2019, was the way the event team reimagined Microsoft Inspire signage - reducing the square footage of printed graphics by using digital signage where available, and using recycled/recyclable materials for all printed signs," Schuster added. "I’m proud of the sustainability initiatives we’re working on for Microsoft Inspire 2020, furthering the efforts we made in 2019."