The second part of Ignite starts next week
Microsoft Ignite starts on Tuesday, with the vendor set to deliver three days of action-packed sessions.
The event is something of a part 2 – coming after the first virtual Ignite event took place last September. Together, the two events replace what is normally a week-long in-person conference.
Microsoft has been tight-lipped about what we can expect to see and hear at the event, but we’ve pulled together some things we know (or think) we can expect to see.
As always, Microsoft is bringing out the big guns for Ignite. CEO, Satya Nadella, will likely steal the headlines but over 500 speakers will be taking part in the three-day event, including a host of senior execs across mixed reality, AI, Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics and security.
Nadella will kick off proceedings with his keynote at 4:30pm GMT on Tuesday, along with AI Technical Fellow Alex Kipman, and VP for AI and Innovation Marketing Mitra Azizirad.
Well-known leaders including Scott Guthrie and Judson Althoff will speak over the following two days.
The Ignite session catalogue is now live on the My Ignite website, which allows attendees to build their own schedules.
There are over 350 sessions available over the three days, covering a plethora of topics – from Teams, to Surface, to modern workplace, to managing mental health challenges.
Attendees also have access to what Microsoft calls a backpack, where they can store notes on sessions, attendees and speakers.
Microsoft revealed earlier this week that keynotes at Ignite will be available to view via the AltspaceVR.
AltspaceVR is a virtual events platform that was founded in 2013 and acquired by Microsoft in 2017.
Microsoft said the platform is compatible with every major VR and AR headset and can be via the Windows Store, Steam Library and Oculus Stores for Rift and Quest headsets.
Altspace VS is supported on Windows Mixed Reality headsets, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift/Rift-S, Oculus Quest/Quest2, and 2D mode on PC
This one seems obvious given that it’s a virtual event but, aside from the actual sessions, Microsoft will be running live coverage in parallel though Learn TV.
Learn TV was announced at Microsoft Build last year and features daily live and pre-recorded broadcasts for developers and engineers using Microsoft platforms.
The platform will be dedicated to Ignite content throughout the duration of the event.
Microsoft announced Viva at the beginning of February, calling it “the first employee experience platform to bring tools for employee engagement, learning, wellbeing and knowledge discovery, directly into the flow of people’s work”.
The vendor released a lot of collateral around the launch and explained the four sections it is broken into.
But with large elements of the platform yet to be released, there are plenty of questions around how Viva works and fits into the wider Microsoft ecosystem.
As expected there will be a number of Viva sessions throughout Ignite, which you can view here.
A featured session with Chuck Friedman, VP of employee experience platform at Microsoft, will talk through the inception of Viva and its role in Microsoft 365.
Friedman has been at Microsoft for over a decade but only took on his current role in October last year, so it’s probably fair to assume he’s been pivotal in the development of Viva and will have answers to the questions!
Other sessions will dive deeper into specific components of Viva and how it can be used to drive positive culture.
Surface Duo was perhaps the most hotly anticipated Microsoft hardware ever, with its mid-February international launch coming well over a year after it was first announced (the US launch came last September).
Duo has been well received and is widely considered to be the market leader in foldable devices.
While it’s not explicitly mentioned in the agenda, Microsoft has three sessions marked as being dedicated to Surface and Microsoft endpoints. Given that most of the world has only had access to the product for a little over two weeks, it would be very surprising if Duo does not get some attention.