Posey's Tips & Tricks

Microsoft Ignite 2022 Will Be in Person!

However, just don't expect the Microsoft Ignite of past years.

Microsoft has just announced that its flagship Ignite event will be held in person. This will be the first time that Microsoft has hosted an in person Ignite event since way back in 2019.

I have to admit that Microsoft's announcement really caught me off guard. I was not at all expecting an in-person Ignite event this year. After all, Microsoft has for the last couple of years gone to great lengths to minimize the risk of exposure for its employees, contractors, and others. I was more than a little bit surprised that such a risk-averse company has decided to host an in-person event. I applaud Microsoft for stepping out of what seems to be its comfort zone and trying to return to a sense of normalcy.

Even if you put the pandemic aside, I wasn't really sure if Microsoft would ever go back to hosting in-person events. I can only imagine what it must cost Microsoft to host an Ignite event. The facility rental, transportation, travel expenses, food and other costs must be astronomical. Sure, attendees generally pay a couple thousand dollars to attend, but I cannot imagine that Microsoft makes enough money off of attendees and sponsors to fully recoup the cost of the event. I could be wrong (I have never actually seen an Ignite financial statement), but I always just assumed that Microsoft only profits indirectly from the Ignite conference. If that's true, then Microsoft could conceivably save a fortune by keeping Ignite as an online-only event.

As thrilled as I am for the Ignite conference to be making a comeback, this year's event probably is not going to be anything like the 2019 Ignite conference, at least not in terms of scale.

For those who might have missed Ignite 2019, it was held in Orlando, Fla. I never heard an official tally of the number of conference attendees, but one unofficial estimate was that there were about 30,000 people in attendance. The attendee party seemed to confirm the idea that the attendance numbers were massive. Microsoft rented out two amusement parks for its attendee party, and both parks though huge, were really crowded. It was so crowded in fact, that I left the party early and enjoyed having the hotel swimming pool to myself while everyone else was at the attendee party.

All signs point to Ignite 2022 being a much smaller event. For starters, Ignite is being held in Seattle at the Seattle Convention Center. According to Wikipedia, the convention center has capacity for 1105 booths or 8000 seated attendees.

Microsoft has also echoed the idea that this will be a scaled down Ignite by issuing a statement saying that there will be a limited number of passes available for the in-person event. I also can't help but notice that the event is only scheduled to last for three days. Officially, past Ignite conferences were usually four days long (but there were almost always numerous ancillary events scheduled for several days before and after the main event).

In some ways, I don't blame Microsoft for scaling down the event this year. Some past attendees will surely be hesitant to attend public gatherings for fear of getting ill. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there will also be those who just don't want to deal with the hassles of masks and other precautions (although such precautions have not yet been announced). When you also factor in an uncertain economy, it seems only prudent for Microsoft to have a scaled-down event.

So what about the conference itself? What might attendees expect? Right now there aren't a lot of details available, but based on what information I have been able to get, Ignite 2022 sounds like a smaller version of past Ignite conferences. There is, however, one notable difference. For the first time, Microsoft is going to be offering both a free and a paid in-person experience (plus a digital experience). 

Unfortunate I won't be in Seattle for Ignite 2022 because of a prior commitment. Even so, I am really looking forward to seeing how Ignite 2022 ultimately shapes future Ignite events.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 21-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.

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