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Intel, Mashable and TikTok are the latest to pull out of SXSW. Photo: Amy E. Price/FilmMagic

It's looking like most big tech events will be postponed or canceled for the coming couple months, creating new work patterns for an industry that thrives on gatherings.

Between the lines: In-person events carry long-term value as attendees share ideas and build deeper relationships. In the short term, though, workers may find that less travel for events helps them focus and be more productive.

Driving the news: Among the latest round of cancellations and pullouts:

  • Google scrapped the in-person version of its I/O developer conference, saying it would come up with some sort of digital replacement.
  • Lesbians Who Tech postponed its San Francisco Summit until August.
  • Intel, Mashable and TikTok joined Facebook and Twitter in pulling out of SXSW, but organizers continue to insist the Austin gathering — due to start March 13 — will go on.
  • A number of tech firms, including Amazon, Intel, Cisco and Salesforce, pulled out of HIMSS, the big medical tech trade show slated for next week in Orlando. (Amazon also confirmed that a worker at its South Lake Union campus in Seattle has tested positive for COVID-19.)

Meanwhile: Google and Microsoft both said they are offering free versions of workplace communications software to help businesses deal with travel limits.

  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company is providing its G Suite customers with free access to its Hangouts Meet video conferencing tool, through July 1.
  • Microsoft is globally extending an offer of a free six-month trial for the business version of its Teams collaboration software. It had previously made it available in China. "By making Teams available to all for free for six months, we hope that we can support public health and safety by making remote work even easier," a Microsoft representative told Axios.
  • Constellation Research has a timely series of webinars on how tech companies can deal with a coronavirus-altered landscape, as well as a long (and growing) list of the tech events canceled so far.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 10 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 10 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.