Microsoft’s Surface Hub 2 is designed for an office of the future

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Microsoft is unveiling the next-generation of its giant conference room displays today: Surface Hub 2. While the original Surface Hub shipped in 2016 with 1080p 55-inch and 4K 84-inch options, the Surface Hub 2 will use a 50.5-inch display with a greater than 4K resolution and 3:2 aspect ratio with extremely thin bezels. That’s the same ratio as all other Surface products, and Microsoft has clearly picked this to compliment the fact its giant display now rotates to a portrait position.

The new portrait orientation allows the Surface Hub 2 to rotate into place with a clever mechanism that looks similar to Microsoft’s Surface Book muscle wire lock. Microsoft isn’t providing many specifications for the new Surface Hub 2, or even a release date or exact pricing, but the new device will be available in 2019. Today’s preview is more about informing businesses that typically order devices far in advance that this device is on the way.

The hardware of the Surface Hub 2 looks stunning, but Microsoft is also improving the software running on the new device. While it’s still based on Windows 10, Microsoft is working on a new dynamic collaboration scenario that will allow multiple people to walk up to the Surface Hub 2, log into the device using the built-in fingerprint reader and then each pull their own work into a single collaborative document. Most of the software will be optimized for Microsoft Teams, and far-field microphones and 4K cameras will allow you to make video calls in portrait mode that make it feel like you’re standing next to a colleague.

The Surface Hub 2 is designed to be flexible and lightweight so workers can move it throughout an office, although Microsoft isn’t detailing the exact dimensions or weight today. Microsoft is also working with Steelcase to produce stands and wall mounts for the Surface Hub 2, and you’ll even be able to mount four of them together on a wall and have them linked as multiple monitors. Microsoft is calling this “tiling,” and it allows users to display different content side-by-side. In Microsoft’s promotional video (above) you can see this mode in action towards the end, and the 4K webcam is removable (it connects via USB-C) so multiple Surface Hub 2 devices can stack against each other in portrait or landscape.

Microsoft’s promotional video for the Surface Hub 2 really feels like the company’s vision of the future is becoming a reality. Microsoft has been obsessed with giant touchscreens for years now, but this new Surface Hub 2 brings together many of the dream scenarios we’ve seen for these type of displays. It’s clear that Microsoft is far ahead of its competition in this market too. Google launched its own $5,000 digital whiteboard last year, pricing it $4,000 below Microsoft’s 55-inch Surface Hub. Google’s Jamboard isn’t as slick or well integrated with typical Office apps as Microsoft’s Surface Hub, and this latest hardware and software pushes Microsoft even further ahead.

Microsoft says pricing will be in line with similar competitive devices, which could mean we’ll see a more aggressive price point to counter Google’s own digital whiteboard. Microsoft has already sold Surface Hubs to more than 5,000 businesses in 25 countries. More than half of Fortune 100 companies already own a Surface Hub, and it’s the most popular Surface device for enterprise customers. By simplifying to a single display size (50.5-inch) with the Surface Hub 2, the hardware should be easier to manufacture. Microsoft has struggled to manufacture Surface Hub devices to meet demand, and the company closed its US manufacturing plant last year, presumably to cut costs and speed up production elsewhere.

Microsoft will be keen to avoid some of the delays we saw with the original Surface Hub, and the company is launching an early adopter program later this year. Select commercial customers will be able to test the Surface Hub 2 before it’s more broadly available next year.

Comments

I always see these and wonder what companies actually use them? Seems like most companies can’t even be bothered to update their old projector in a conference room.

The final few paragraphs of this article seem to address that.

Microsoft has already sold Surface Hubs to more than 5,000 businesses in 25 countries. More than half of Fortune 100 companies already own a Surface Hub, and it’s the most popular Surface device for enterprise customers.

I don’t know if this quote is more telling of the popularity of the Surface Hub or the failure of Surface devices to penetrate the enterprise.

> failure of Surface devices to penetrate the enterprise.

The figure is solely for the surface hub released in 2016. Surface products otherwise, especially the studio and books have far more adoption than the 5,000 businesses that have hubs.

Why does it say "it’s the most popular Surface device for enterprise customers" then?

Very interesting question. Seems like a claim like that should be backed up with some data.

I am projecting here, but I think the writer is doing a few things:
1. He equates "enterprise" to "Fortune 100" (extremely large companies)
2. He/Microsoft have data that says 50% of "Fortune 100" companies bought Surface Hubs.

3. Using that percentage, (50%) he concludes, either based on data or supposition, that Surface Hubs are the most popular amongst "enterprises", i.e. it is unlikely that half of target large businesses (which tend to buy workaday computers from just 1 or few OEMs with looooooong relationships with them) bought Surface Pro, Laptop or whatever.
This makes total sense as the Surface mobile devices entered a market where there were already similar products, whereas the hub is more original

Most large enterprises won’t spend Surface Book/Pro money on employees. I’ve worked for 3 companies with 30,000+ employees and everyone who wasn’t c-level had crappy Dell Latitudes with 768p screens and 4gb of ram. In specialist areas it might be different, but in Healthcare, Financial Services and Banking, you get crap and have to keep it for 3 years. They buy 3 year service plans and don’t care. They will spend a lot of money outfitting conference rooms with communications equipment.

We have 25 of them.

How is the usage? We’ve got a 2 Jamboards that are not used that much.

Pretty good actually. We have a bunch scattered in several remote offices and they work real well for skype meetings. We’re on O365 so a user can walk into a room with a hub and sign in with their credentials and get all their OneDrive so they can launch their powerpoints or whatever office document they want.

The Whiteboard Preview app lets people sign in and share a whiteboard session to other hubs as well as W10 laptops. Little pricey but i have the feeling these 2.0 ones will be more affordable.

We bought Dell’s version as a POC and will be converting other conference rooms as the projectors die. A lighter option would be nice. The Dell board we bought was a beast and required reinforcing of the wall to mount.

Perfect for Scrum meetings.

Honestly, forget offices. I want that for freelancing at home.

Also does it have HDMI? Because hooking it up as a home theatre would be amazing.

It should have them, on the back with the hinge, there seems to be a speaker and probably a bunch of ports. I doubt they would remove them as that doesn’t make an awful lot of sense for the target market.

Don’t get the camera… the angle is horrible. The video of the woman is clearly from a professinal straight on camera, not a god angle head shot. In other words, the coolest feature of their demo, is fake and flawed

> Don’t get the camera… the angle is horrible. The video of the woman is clearly from a professinal straight on camera, not a god angle head shot. In other words, the coolest feature of their demo, is fake and flawed

And you surely know that because you were there while the demo was made and you designed the product, right?

Computers can manipulate images with 3D cameras. This is 2018.

Eh… you can do some crazy things with 3D cameras, but Oldarney is right that the footage is very likely faked. Although, that’s not really anything new or even a proper criticism – nobody uses actual webcam footage in their marketing trailers.

The angle will likely be a bit off for a lot of use cases, but it’s no worse than the gen 1 Surface Hub. At least this one can be repositioned. And for meetings where people sit around tables (which is a lot of enterprise meeting situations), it’ll be just fine.

3D cameras

Does that look like a 3d camera to you? have you seen the Kinect? Are you suggesting Microsoft will recreate and vastly improve on the very expensive to develop FaceID for a relatively niche market?

You expect too much from microsoft

I love that camera in the video makes me think back of my old iSight (the original, aluminum external webcam thingy, not the integrated ones). It’s nice to see a nicely designed (at least it looks like it’s nicely designed) webcam again.

The current ones also have the cameras angled and on the side of the device. They are simply amazing. I always feel like looking trough a portal into an office that far away from me.

now that notches are cool… I say let’s have a middle of the screen camera notch and call it a day. They are making their own software for this… Might as well work around it, literally, in software.

Hopefully it will just look like a few burnt pixels…

Except that you can put the camera on the side or rotate the screen and have it at the perfect level for the feed you saw…

Consumers and Business… It’s like consumers are those kids playing with toys wishing to have all the fancy things Adults have, even when they don’t know how to use them

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