While we were expecting CES 2022 to be the first proper in-person tech conference since the Covid-19 pandemic, disaster has struck the early-January week-long Las Vegas-based consumer tech event, and the past few weeks have been rife with big tech companies pulling out of a physical showing.
Following in the shoes of Google, Amazon and many more, Microsoft is the latest company to head for the door, it confirmed in a statement to The Verge (opens in new tab). The big M said it'd be avoiding an 'in-person' attendance at the show, which suggests it could still have a virtual conference, though that's not the same for attendees or general tech fans.
At conferences like CES, tech journalists have the opportunity to attend loads of product launches and bring you hands-on reviews and impressions. When companies do digital launches, as the CES-pullers-outers may do, we don't often get to handle the new products, meaning you'll be waiting longer to find out how good they actually are.
Throughout Covid, journalists often got products during or after their release, unlike pre-pandemic where we generally got them ahead of time, which makes it a lot harder to deliver relevant and well-researched buying advice on time - while this is clearly going to be the case with CES 2022 as well, we're hoping smartphone tech show MWC 2022 in February will still go ahead as planned.
Microsoft's abandonment of CES makes total sense though: the company stated the 'rapidly evolving COVID environment' is the reason it's pulling out, and since it would need to field numerous executives and representatives in Las Vegas for the conference, the risk of its employees contracting the virus is high. This option is safer for Microsoft's staff.
The new state of CES remains to be seen - it's scheduled to start on January 2, 2022, and while exhibitors are dropping out right, left and center, new ones are filling in for them too. TechRadar will be covering the conference digitally, not in person, so while we might not be able to test out all the newest gadgets debuted, we'll be working hard to cover as much as possible.