Microsoft isn’t just taking the stage at the big CES conference next year, it’s helping to actually power the stage, as the Consumer Technology Association announced Monday that it has selected the tech giant as its technology partner for the all-digital event.

CES 2021 will use Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Power Platform to deliver an exhibitor showcase, media events, conference programming, networking events and more over four days, Jan. 11-14.

The annual conference usually attracts many thousands of exhibitors, attendees and media from around the world for an in-person event in Las Vegas. CTA will rely instead on Microsoft to connect everything via the cloud, and the company feels like staging its own large-scale events over the past several months has helped it learn a ton.

In a blog post Monday, Microsoft’s Bob Bejan, corporate VP for global events, said that the company has “experimented and piloted ideas and new approaches to creating compelling and highly interactive experiences, and we’ve made significant strides in defining the elements of a successful virtual event.”

Microsoft has produced a dozen of its own major events, including all six of its flagship global conferences, such as Microsoft Build, and it has come to appreciate the expanded reach. In 2019, 6,200 people attended Build in Seattle; this year, the virtual event had 197,000 attendees.

“Our past live events were theatrical, with dynamic speakers on stage commanding a rapt audience,” Bejan said. “But the all-digital format requires something more cinematic. We now tailor our content to that format, and we have transformed from a live show production team, to a 24/7 television production network, complete with live anchors from around the world.”

Here’s a rough CES 2021 schedule:

  • Jan. 11: Exclusive media-only access.
  • Jan. 12-13: Exhibitor showcase and conference programming.
  • Jan. 14: Conference programming.
  • Registration will open on Dec. 1, 2020.

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