Microsoft Surface Hub conferencing system to ship in September, starting at $7,000

Microsoft's new Surface Hub conferencing systems will be available for pre-order starting July 1, and come preloaded with software and services.

Microsoft's successor to its large-screen Perceptive Pixel displays -- its Surface Hub collaboration system -- has a price and a delivery target.

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Microsoft officials said the 55-inch, Intel Core i5-based Surface Hub model will go for $6,999 (estimated retail price), and the Intel Core i7-based 84-inch version for $19,999 ERP. The Surface Hub systems will be available for pre-order starting July 1 in 24 markets and will begin shipping worldwide in September, officials disclosed on June 10.

What will users get for their money?

They'll get a pre-assembled, customized multi-touch, digital-ink-enabled collaboration system running a variant of Windows 10. Both Surface Hub models include custom-designed versions of OneNote, Skype for Business and Microsoft's Office apps. They also will be able to run Universal Windows apps available from the unified Windows Store. Two pens (but no pen loops -- sorry, pen loop fans) and a wireless keyboard will be part of the system out of the box, as well.

The Surface Hub can detect 100 points of multi-touch and up to three simultaneous pen inputs. It has dual 1080p front-facing video cameras and a four-microphone array, as well as built in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and a variety of ports. The devices are also Miracast-enabled. Microsoft-manufactured stands for the devices -- a rolling model and another fixed-place, height-adjustable one -- will be available for purchase separately and timed to roll out with the Hubs.

Microsoft's pitch is that Surface Hubs cost only about half of what customers typically spend on the technology and AV systems that users plan to shell out when setting up comparable conferencing systems.

Microsoft plans to sell Surface Hub primarily through designated reseller partners. But the company also will offer the devices direct to customers, and make them available in its Microsoft Stores.

Microsoft is manufacturing the Surface Hubs in Wilsonville, Ore. The 24 markets where the product will be available this year are: U.S., Canada, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE and U.K.

Microsoft bought Perceptive Pixel, a manufacturer of large multi-touch displays, in 2012. Those displays were originally priced in the $80,000 range. Last year, Microsoft was selling the 55-inch Perceptive Pixel display for around $7,500 via various resellers/retailers. Last fall, Stephen Elop, head of Microsoft's Devices division, said Microsoft was gearing up to mass-produce these large-screen displays.

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