Microsoft readies second version of its Surface Hub conferencing system

Microsoft plans to disclose specifics about its second-generation Surface Hub large-screen, multi-touch conferencing system in the first half of 2018.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft has been mum about when customers should expect a refresh of its Surface Hub conferencing system -- until today, March 9.

Credit: Microsoft

Today, a company spokesperson confirmed that the company will provide specifics about the next-generation Surface some time in the first half of this calendar year.

"Surface Hub created an entirely new device category and we're thrilled with the strong momentum we have seen across the globe. We're working on V2 and will share more in the first half of this year," said a spokesperson via e-mail.

Officials won't say if Microsoft will start shipping the second-generation Surface Hub in this calendar year. Last year, I had heard from sources that the company was targeting 2018 for generation 2 Surface Hub. Microsoft could do what it did with Surface Book 2 and unveil the product in the latter part of this year but not ship in any kind of real volume until early next year.

Microsoft has yet to deliver an optimized version of its Microsoft Teams group-chat service on the Surface Hub, but supposedly it's in the works. I'm also hearing an OS refresh for the first-generation Surface Hub is coming, which could provide V1 users with at least some of the new functionality that will be part of Surface Hub V2.

Microsoft hasn't said anything about specific features likely to be part of the next-generation Surface Hub. However, the company has hinted that Cortana integration, automatic transcription, and advanced scheduling capabilities could all figure in its conference room of the future scenarios.

The first Surface Hub multitouch conferencing systems launched in late March 2016 after months of delays and a price increase before it got to market. It is available in two versions (55 and 84 inches).

In December 2016, Microsoft officials said more than 2,000 customers had Surface Hub pre-orders "in the pipeline." As of now, March 2018, Microsoft has 5,000 customers for Surface Hub, according to sources.

Microsoft has had trouble keeping Surface Hub in stock (though, as I've noted before, it's not clear if that's because they aren't making enough or if orders are exceeding what they anticipated.) I'm hearing officials are warning customers that Microsoft is again at the point where backordering is about to happen.

Microsoft closed its Surface Hub manufacturing facility in Oregon last summer, laying off more than 120 people in the process. Microsoft attributed the move to Surface manufacturing consolidation, and reiterated that Microsoft remained committed to the product line. Microsoft acquired the manufacturing facility as part of its 2012 acquisition of Perceptive Pixel Inc. (PPI). Microsoft used PPI's technology as the foundation for its Surface Hub line.

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