Microsoft Ignite 2021: Digging Into the Program

We browsed through the Microsoft Ignite 2021 session catalog to highlight key sessions for IT staff focused on collaboration and user productivity.

Richard Hay, Senior Content Producer

February 25, 2021

5 Min Read
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Microsoft Ignite 2021 will be completely virtual once again as Microsoft looks to update IT pros around the world on the latest additions and enhancements to the company’s products and services. The event is scheduled to occur from March 2-4, and the session catalog is now live.

We spent some time exploring the catalog to discover the best Microsoft Ignite sessions for IT pros interested in productivity and collaboration. Here we map out the keynotes and sessions you’ll want to keep on your radar if you’ll be attending the conference.


Two keynotes will kick off both Day 1 and Day 2 of Microsoft Ignite 2021. These keynotes do not run simultaneously with any other sessions. We expect them to provide a good overview of key Microsoft technology areas.

The first keynote will be led by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who will be joined by Microsoft’s Alex Kipman, technical fellow for AI and mixed reality. Expect Nadella’s broad overview of the company’s product and services strategy, with a drilldown from Kipman on AI and mixed reality.

Continuing the AI theme, the second Day 1 keynote is titled “Envisioning Tomorrow,” presented by Microsoft Corporate Vice President for AI and Innovation Mitra Azizirad. Microsoft’s AI-focused research has borne fruit that’s been incorporated into products and services using a set of APIs for vision, speech, language and decision AI tools. Those tools are used to personalize user experiences; analyze sentiment in documents; perform speech to text, text to speech and speech translations; analyze content in images and video; and detect and identify people and emotions in images. Expect Azizirad to highlight the latest updates in these areas.

On Day 2, keynotes begin with Microsoft Executive Vice President for Cloud and AI Scott Guthrie and Merrie Williamson, vice president for Azure apps and infrastructure. Over the past year, cloud has become even more important to the remote workforce. Azure will be featured heavily in Ignite sessions – it’s mentioned in more than 100 session descriptions – as it continues to underpin innovations for app developers and infrastructure for software and services for both Microsoft and its customers. Expect updates around Azure Communications Services, Azure Kubernetes Service, hybrid cloud and multicloud architecture, Azure data, Azure backup and disaster recovery, and open source computing on Azure.

The final keynote on Day 2 and for Microsoft Ignite 2021 will feature Judson Althoff, Microsoft's executive vice president of worldwide commercial business. Althoff has recently been involved in establishing strategic partnerships for the company with health care provider Kaiser Permanente; ODP Corp., a business services provider; Shell, aimed at reducing carbon emissions; and BP, focused on digital energy innovation. These partnerships will utilize Microsoft Azure products and services to help with digital transformation across all these industries. Althoff will likely highlight a few of these new partnerships in his keynote.

Recordings of each keynote will be rebroadcast to accommodate the global audience. Log in to the Microsoft Ignite 2021 website after registering to see local times for these sessions.


Over the course of the last 12 months, Microsoft has not only launched new apps and services, but it has also continued to update its existing platforms to accommodate a workforce that has shifted to remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Microsoft Ignite 2021 will field over 200 sessions across solution areas such as remote and hybrid work, collaboration, learning, deployment and adoption, and employee engagement. Sessions will have various level of technical depth ranging from foundational (Level 100) to expert (Level 400).

Here are some key sessions that should prove valuable to IT pros and staff most interested in user productivity and collaboration.

  • Microsoft Teams

    • Table Talk: Modern Work for Everybody (Session Code CON246)

    • The Latest Innovations with Microsoft Teams (Session Codes FS192 and ATE-FS192-R1)

    • Secure and Compliant Collaboration with Microsoft Teams (Session Code FS191)

    • One Place for IT Professionals to Manage Teams Efficiently (Session Codes ATE-FS191 and OD380)

  • Employee Experience

    • Meet Microsoft Viva: A New Kind of Employee Experience (Session Codes FS193 and ATE-FS193)

    • Microsoft Viva: Insights (Session Code OD368)

    • Microsoft Viva: Connections (Session OD369)

    • Microsoft Viva: Learning (Session Code OD370)

    • Microsoft Viva: Topics (Session OD372)

  • Windows and Devices

    • Ask the Experts: Windows & Devices (Session Code ATE-FS194)

    • Microsoft Surface: Delivering the Best in Modern Endpoint Security from Microsoft (Session OD375)

    • Thirty Minutes of Reasons to Stay Excited about Microsoft Endpoint Manager (Session OD377)

There are also two Microsoft Ignite sessions that are not labeled as keynotes but feature high-level Microsoft execs. They promise to address challenges and opportunities around the evolving workplace paradigm:

  • The Hybrid Workplace (Session Code FS190). The speaker is Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365.  Expect information about the work over the last year to bring hybrid and remote work to the forefront of the Microsoft ecosystem.

  • The Heartbeat of Modern Work: A Windows Fireside Chat (Session Code STUDIO59). Speaker is Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer. He will talk about features and innovations coming to the Microsoft ecosystem.

All Microsoft Ignite 2021 keynotes and sessions will be streamed live, rebroadcast later the same day and available on-demand when the conference is over.

ITPro Today will be covering Microsoft Ignite 2021, and all of that related content can be found on our Microsoft Ignite news portal.

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About the Author(s)

Richard Hay

Senior Content Producer, IT Pro Today (Informa Tech)

I served for 29 plus years in the U.S. Navy and retired as a Master Chief Petty Officer in November 2011. My work background in the Navy was telecommunications related so my hobby of computers fit well with what I did for the Navy. I consider myself a tech geek and enjoy most things in that arena.

My first website – – came online in 1995. Back then I used GeoCities Web Hosting for it and is the result of the work I have done on that site since 1995.

In January 2010 my community contributions were recognized by Microsoft when I received my first Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award for the Windows Operating System. Since then I have been renewed as a Microsoft MVP each subsequent year since that initial award. I am also a member of the inaugural group of Windows Insider MVPs which began in 2016.

I previously hosted the Observed Tech PODCAST for 10 years and 317 episodes and now host a new podcast called Faith, Tech, and Space. 

I began contributing to Penton Technology websites in January 2015 and in April 2017 I was hired as the Senior Content Producer for Penton Technology which is now Informa Tech. In that role, I contribute to ITPro Today and cover operating systems, enterprise technology, and productivity.

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