Your Guide to Microsoft Ignite 2020: Now Free, Online, and Split in Two

As we look forward to this year’s Microsoft Ignite 2020, we can’t help but also reflect on our first visit to the sold-out live event last year. Part of the live conference experience is the fun surrounding meeting new people, having conversations, attending sessions, spending some time at the expo hall meeting vendors, checking out product demos, plus the swag and cool prizes. However, Microsoft Ignite 2020 is going to look a little bit different this year in its new format as a free digital event.

September is Only The First Part of Ignite

In response to the current global health crisis, Microsoft announced that Ignite, its conference for developers and IT professionals, will follow the company’s other upcoming events and shift to a digital-only format, instead of the in-person conference scheduled to be held in New Orleans. In addition, Microsoft will split Ignite into two events. The first event will take place on September 22–24, while the second one is planned for early 2021.

Announcements, Speakers, and More!

Microsoft has yet to release the full agenda for Ignite, but one thing it has revealed is the introduction of TableTalks and TableTopics to drive community conversation during the digital event. TableTopics will feature multiple tables with designated topics hosted on the Microsoft tech community where you can comment on a conversation or start your own. It will use a built-in AI translation to enable a global conversation giving everyone the opportunity to network between peers around the world. And, TableTalks will be hosted by a moderator for face-to-face conversations (a.k.a. team meetings) for a real-time conversation over video chat.

You can expect in-depth sessions on how to use Azure, Teams, GitHub, and other Microsoft assets, new capabilities across its major platforms to enhance cloud computing and productivity and cover topics such as:

How to Get the Most Out of Digital-Only events

Last year Microsoft announced Azure Arc, Azure Synapse Analytics, along with other updated capabilities in Azure, and Power Platform, so while you wait for this year’s digital event, you can revisit last year’s event highlights and sessions now available on-demand from the MyIgnite community website.

Microsoft plans to make all events digital-only at least through mid-2021. Earlier this year, Build, Microsoft’s annual developer conference, was also held in a virtual-only event with a focus on practical tools, services, and resources for developers, with some sessions live and others pre-recorded as well as their partner conference Inspire.

While it won’t be the same as a live event, here are a few ways to maximize the experience:

  • Create a schedule — block off the full days in your calendar now, so you don’t get overbooked with meetings. Once the schedule is released, plan in advance which sessions you’ll attend and put them on your calendar.
  • Find a watch party — it can actually be easier with a digital event to find other folks to discuss and chat with. If coworkers are tuning in, create a Teams or Slack channel to chat about sessions and announcements. Or, use the #MSIgnite hashtag on Twitter. Many local meetup groups will have their own mechanisms to watch together. And don’t count out Reddit groups and other forums.
  • Look for offers from would-be sponsors — if there are Microsoft product/service-related vendors you’re interested in, sign up for their mailing lists now. There will likely be many online swag/prize giveaways to make up for the loss of the conference hall, which can be a fun way to win cool stuff and of course, learn about potential solutions. (You can always unsubscribe!) We’ll keep an eye out for giveaways and update here.

The registration is set to open on September 3rd, you can check Ignite’s website for more updates. Both Ignite and Build are expected to once again be hosted virtually for the earlier part of 2021.

Originally published at on August 25, 2020.

CEO of ParkMyCloud