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Microsoft Build 2021: everything you need to know about the developer conference

Microsoft Build
(Image credit: TechRadar)

The last year or so has seen a huge shift in how tech companies hold their respective conferences. Events like Microsoft Build, Google I/O, and WWDC have all had to adapt, but continue to serve their developer communities. 

Microsoft has made Build 2021 official, and while it won’t be the same as the Build conferences of old, it will still see a packed schedule and a ton of new announcements. 

As the event is primarily aimed at developers, it’s unlikely that hardware will be announced, and many of the topics won’t be consumer-focused. But Microsoft does also use Build to talk about new aspects of Windows 10 and its associated software products such as Microsoft Office and Microsoft Edge. 

Here’s what we know so far about Microsoft Build 2021. 

When is Microsoft Build 2021 and where will it take place?

Microsoft Build 2021 will take place from May 25 - May 27. Much like in 2020, this is a reduction of two full days from its traditional in-person schedule. 

Also, like in 2020, Microsoft Build 2021 will be an entirely digital conference delivered online. Microsoft had committed to digital-only events for at least a year during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, and Build 2021 was already expected to be covered by this. 

Being digital-only will mean round-the-clock access to various streams of content to all those registered for the event and all will be available on-demand afterward. 

This is particularly useful for non-U.S. attendees since the ability to work in your own time zone instead of U.S. Pacific time is certainly a bonus. 

Registration information hasn’t yet been released, but it’s expected that Build 2021 will be free to register for as it was in 2020.

Microsoft Build 2021

(Image credit: TechRadar)

How to register for Microsoft Build 2021

Registration for Microsoft Build 2021 is now open to all and as it's an online conference overall capacity isn't an issue. 

To register, head over to the official Build 2021 portal to begin. From there you simply have to sign in with a Microsoft account, be that personal, work or school, or with credentials from Github or LinkedIn. 

Once logged in, click the 'Register myself' button and fill out your details. Once confirmed you'll see your attendee page and you're all set. The agenda hasn't been confirmed in detail yet as it may out topics that will be announced during the keynote. 

What is really neat is that your Build 2021 schedule will automatically report in your timezone. There is content broadcast at different times throughout the course of the event to help those around the world have a more sociable conference. 

Microsoft Build

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Microsoft Build 2021: latest news

Microsoft Build 2021 session catalog now live

Everyone attending the Microsoft Build 2021 virtual conference has been waiting for the session catalog to go live and the wait is finally over. Beginning with a keynote delivered by Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, the entire conference is now packed with interesting sessions. 

If you’re registered for Microsoft Build 2021 then you can now log in and begin building your own event schedule and choosing sessions most of interest to you. Some may be limited by the number of attendees so be sure to act fast. 

There could still be some sessions not yet announced if Microsoft is planning to unveil new products during the keynote. But as content will be made available on-demand, don’t stress out too much if you can’t make everything you want to. It will always be available after the event. 

Microsoft might be planning a Build-timed Xbox event

Ordinarily, Build is focused on computers and the developer community, with gaming being left for separate, dedicated events. While this is expected to be the case again in 2021, Microsoft is reportedly planning an Xbox event to tie in with the Build 2021 time frame. 

Microsoft already has Game Stack Live confirmed, but the reports claim this event is completely separate to this. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley claims Microsoft is going to announce a number of smaller “What’s Next” events to supplement its larger conferences. 

With Game Stack Live scheduled for April 20, the reported “What’s Next for Gaming” event could well happen around a month later to tie in with the Build 2021 festivities. 

No clash with Google I/O

In recent years, Microsoft Build and Google I/O, the Mountain View-based developer conference, have occurred quite close together. The same is true again in 2021, but there will be no clash for developers to worry about. 

Google I/O has been confirmed for May 18 - May 20, a full week before Microsoft Build, and it too will be an online-only affair. 

More information on the Windows 10 21H2 update

The first big Windows 10 update of 2021, the 21H1 update, has already been confirmed by Microsoft. While there is currently no release date for it, by the very nature of its name we can expect it in the first half of the year as is traditional. 

The second update of the year is the one that could be more interesting. Windows 10 21H2 is likely to arrive in the second half of the year, perhaps around October time, and reports suggest a number of significant changes to the operating system. 

Build 2021 would be an ideal platform for Microsoft to start to publicly discuss some of what’s coming to Windows 10 later this year. Parts are already beginning to appear in the Dev Channel of the Windows Insider Program, and as we head into the second half of the year a full 21H2 build will begin testing at some point. 

Nothing is confirmed at this point, but it wouldn’t be surprising to hear Microsoft use the keynote and break-out sessions at Build 2021 to detail the next evolution of Windows 10.