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Coronavirus: Microsoft exits developer event and revises outlook

Microsoft has decided to run a digital-only event after announcing it would not be at the Games Developer Conference in San Francisco

Microsoft has said it will not attend a games developer conference in March and has revised its earnings amid fears that the coronavirus will have a serious impact on PC supply chains.

On 29 January, as part of its second-quarter 2020 earnings call, Microsoft said quarterly revenue guidance for its More Personal Computing business was between $10.75bn and $11.15bn. At the time, it said the earnings guidance included a wider-than-usual range to reflect uncertainty related to the public health situation in China. 

Following on from the Q2 earnings call, Microsoft has revised the outlook for its More Personal Computing business, saying: “Although we see strong Windows demand in line with our expectations, the supply chain is returning to normal operations at a slower pace than anticipated at the time of our Q2 earnings call. As a result, for the third quarter of fiscal year 2020, we do not expect to meet our More Personal Computing segment guidance as Windows OEM (PC hardware manufacturers) and Surface are more negatively impacted than previously anticipated. All other components of our Q3 guidance remain unchanged.”

Microsoft has decided to withdraw from taking part in Game Developers Conference 2020 in San Francisco, and said in a statement: “The health and safety of players, developers, employees and our partners around the world is our top priority. Especially as the world is experiencing growing public health risks associated with coronavirus (COVID-19).”

Microsoft plans to run a digital-only event on 16-18 March. “This event will feature the majority of our planned game developer sessions and experiences, which will be streamed live and available on demand,” it said.

The company added: “Our global health response team is acting to help protect our employees in accordance with global health authorities’ guidance. Worldwide, Microsoft employees are working to support organisations addressing the challenges on the ground. Microsoft also continues to make donations to relief and containment efforts, including directly providing technology to help hospitals and medical workers.”

Earlier in February, to help minimise the impact of the coronavirus outbreak for businesses in China, Microsoft announced it was providing free services and products to all Chinese partners and customers. At the time, it said Chinese enterprise customers would be able to apply for six months of free Office 365 E1 International edition, which includes Microsoft Teams, which it said could be used for remote work and education.

For industries and customers with data sensitivity, Microsoft said it would cooperate with local operating partner 21Vianet to introduce a free three-month Azure VDI service hosted in China. It said the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) enables secure and compliant remote access to a unified-managed virtual desktop environment from mobile devices.

To help frontline workers solve problems with remote advisers, Microsoft said it would also make Dynamics 365 Remote Assist International edition available for free download with service.

Alain Crozier, corporate vice-president, chairman and CEO of Microsoft Greater China Region, said: “Together we stand, with solidarity and a common faith, so that we will overcome any adversity and jointly build a better future.”

Read more about IT impact of coronavirus

  • The coronavirus outbreak is having a direct impact on Apple’s supply chain and its Chinese retail stores and channel partners.
  • First half of 2020 will likely be much weaker than expected for the 5G smartphone market, but a strong bounce-back is possible in second half of the year if the coronavirus spread is brought under control.

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