(Update: Microsoft's Chris Capossela, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, confirmed today that the tech giant has "made the decision to shift Microsoft Ignite from spring to fall" — and relocate the event from Chicago to Atlanta. The new 2016 conference schedule includes:

There's something happening with Microsoft's 2016 Ignite conference. But to paraphrase Buffalo Springfield, what it is ain't exactly clear.

But by all accounts the 2016 megaevent, originally scheduled for May 9 to 13 in Chicago, has been canceled, relocated or postponed.

The Chicago Tribune, citing unnamed sources, first reported that Microsoft canceled the conference. The loss of the conference is a big economic blow to the Windy City, affecting more than 50 hotels, costing the city about 90,000 room nights and leaving a void at McCormick Place, the venue where the weeklong event debuted last May, the story noted.

The Trib story suggested that Microsoft wanted to reschedule for later in the year, but was unable to do so because McCormick Place was unavailable.

Chicago Business Journal said the cancellation "exacerbates issues for Choose Chicago, the city’s tourism bureau, which recently said it would lay off one-fourth of its staff and is working around a $7.2 million funding freeze stemming from the state’s budget crisis."

So What's Up?

Microsoft hasn't said anything for the record and has not responded to CMSWire's request for comment. And while no one in the Microsoft IT community has any definitive information to share, there is plenty of speculation.

CMSWire contributor Vlad Catrinescu, author of the Absolute SharePoint Blog, suggested several reasons why Microsoft may have canceled or postponed the event. Maybe:

  • The products or features they wanted to release won't be ready for May 2016.
  • There isn't enough time after Microsoft Ignite China finishes this month to plan for “the big” Ignite in 2016
  • Microsoft is responding to negative feedback from the 23,000 attendees last year, who complained about the distance of the hotels from the conference, the food, the distance between sessions

CMSWire contributor Todd Klindt, a SharePoint MVP, said he has been wondering if Microsoft was changing course the past few weeks.

"Last year I was part of a Roundtable Microsoft put together to help plan the Ignite conference. By September 2014 we’d already met in person once and had other discussions about the conference. Now nothing says they are going to have another Roundtable for Ignite 2016 or, if they do, that they’d ask me to be on it again. But I kept expecting to hear something. And neither I or any of the other Roundtable folks that I talked to have heard a thing from Microsoft so far," he said.

'Hard Decisions?'

In a post on Windows ITPro, Rod Trent, Senior Executive Editor and Engagement Director for Penton Technology's Windows IT Pro, SQL Server Pro, Share Point Pro, Dev Pro Connections and myITforum.com, noted that "Things are constantly evolving for Microsoft – particularly for the Microsoft that is now led by CEO Satya Nadella."

Nadella is "attempting to make the company as agile as possible to glean gains wherever it makes sense and to make hard decisions where investments are murky."

"It’s possible that Microsoft is not ready to explain what’s next for Ignite. And, when I say 'not ready,' I don’t necessarily mean the company doesn’t want to, but that it can’t because the decision has not been made yet," he wrote.