Microsoft's (MSFT 0.23%) Build developer conference, the software giant's biggest annual event, is going digital in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

With the number of cases rising in the U.S., Microsoft has decided to move the event online.  The conference held annually in Seattle was slated for May 19th through May 21st. It typically draws thousands of people to the city. A spokesperson for Microsoft told The Verge the company will bring together developers in a virtual format instead.  The software giant said it's responding to the recommendations issued by health safety officials in Washington state.   

Microsoft office.


The cancellation of the in-person portion of the Build conference is a major blow to Microsoft and its developers. Lots of news typically comes out of the annual confab, including upgrades to Windows, Office and its cloud services. Microsoft uses the conference to generate buzz. With Microsoft releasing a version of its dual-screen operating system in February, developers are gearing up to learn more at Build. In addition to creating an OS for PCs and Androids, Microsoft showed off a prototype of a dual-screen tablet and smartphone last year. 

The move on the part of Microsoft to bring Build online follows similar moves by technology companies, professional sports organizations and the entertainment industry to do their part to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Alphabet's (GOOG -0.35%) (GOOGL -0.20%) Google canceled its i/o developers conference while Facebook (META 2.30%) called off the in-person component of F8 2020, its developer conference.  Earlier this week the National Basketball Association suspended its season after a player tested positive for coronavirus while Coachella Music and Arts Festival was also canceled.