"The safety of our community is a top priority. In light of the health safety recommendations for Washington State, we will deliver our annual Microsoft Build event for developers as a digital event, in lieu of an in-person event. We look forward to bringing together our ecosystem of developers in this new virtual format to learn, connect and code together. Stay tuned for more details to come."

While the announcements on 19-21 May will still take place in Seattle, no members of public will be allowed to attend the Washington State Convention Centre. The event will instead be livestreamed around the world via Microsoft's official channels. 

It's the first time the event will not welcome visitors since its inception in 2011. 

This announcement was a widely expected move, becoming the latest in a long line of tech conferences to be affected by the coronavirus outbreakThe illness it causes, known as COVID-19, has spread to well over 100 countries, leading the World Health Organization to declare it a global pandemic. 

The most high profile cancellation has been Mobile World Congress (MWC), while fellow tech giants Google and Facebook have been forced to move events online.

Build is an event primarily focused on developers, but Microsoft hasn't shied away from announcing new hardware there in the past. The Surface Book 3 and Surface Go 2 were slated for a Spring 2020 launch, with some speculating that Microsoft might use Build to launch these devices. 

While that still may be possible, Microsoft indicated its Surface line was one of the most profoundly affected by the coronavirus outbreak, and the situation has only worsened since then.