Microsoft is ready to start shipping its Surface Hub 2S conferencing system. On April 17, officials teed up the new Surface Hub 2S devices by revealing the pricing, SKUs, specs, and availability dates.
The Surface Hub 2S will be available starting in the US in June, officials said. The device -- with an 8th-generation Core i5 processor inside -- will come in two sizes: 50 inches and 85 inches. (The June availability date is for the 2S 50-inch system only, however; the 85-inch model won't begin testing with customers until early 2020.) Pricing starts at $8,999.99 and goes up to $12,000 with all the extras included. Microsoft also will be reselling a Steelcase Roam Mobile Stand, which can house an APC Charge Mobile Battery, allowing the Hub 2S to work unplugged and on battery power for roughly two hours.
Last September, Microsoft officials said they planned to deliver the Surface Hub 2 in two phases. The Surface Hub 2S conferencing hardware would arrive in Q2 2019, but it wouldn't run the newest software and services. Some time in 2020, Microsoft would deliver the Surface Hub 2X with an updated operating system core and associated new features.
The Surface Hub 2S is a multi-touch system that Microsoft originally showed off last summer in photos and videos. It is running a variant of Windows 10 Enterprise, called "Windows 10 Team," which is what the current Surface Hub 1 also runs. Last year, Microsoft officials said the pricing would be "in line" with that of competitive devices.
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). At launch, the 55-inch, Intel Core i5-based Surface Hub 1 went for $6,999 (estimated retail price), and the Intel Core i7-based 84-inch version for $19,999 ERP.
The Surface Hub 2S is designed to be used in portrait or landscape mode, but Microsoft is touting it as working in landscape mode only because smooth rotation between portrait and landscape isn't coming until the 2X arrives. Each Surface Hub 2 panel will be roughly between 60 pounds. Up to four of them can be "tiled," side-by-side with a different app or service running on each panel, according to the company's original plans.But last year, Microsoft officials said the tiling feature was also tied to the 2X version, I was reminded today at the event.
The Surface Hub 2S will include support for 4K cameras that rotate with the device and integrated speakers and far-field microphone arrays. Microsoft is working with Steelcase to make rolling stands and mounts.
In addition to featuring the 8th Generation Core i5, the Surface Hub 2S will have 8GB DDR4 of RAM; a solid-state 128GB drive; a USB-A and USB-C/DP port (plus RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI Video and Mini-DisplayPort video output port); and 4 UB-C (data or FPR) ports on the monitor itself for camera or data.
"Dynamic collaboration" is what will set the Surface Hub 2 apart from other similar devices, officials have said. Multiple users will be able to authenticate in a single workspace, enabling them to simultaneously access, collaborate on, and save a single shared document stored in the cloud.
"Surface Hub 2 provides a robust whiteboard experience, but your whiteboard can be shared across Windows 10, iOS, and Android devices, so you can jump back into the same brainstorm session anytime, anywhere, from any device," Microsoft officials said in a blog post last year.
Microsoft showed off this concept years ago in one of its futuristic "envisioning" videos. In that video from 2015, Microsoft also showed users pushing and pulling content from a centralized hub to their individual PCs and other handheld devices with a flick-like gesture.
In 2020, Microsoft officials have said they plan to make available the same Surface Hub 2 hardware it introduces this year, but with a system refresh delivered in the form of a 2X module that will update the Surface Hub 2 with a number of features Microsoft initially promised would be part of the Surface Hub in 2019.
The 2X module will run Microsoft 365 -- Microsoft's bundle of Windows 10, Office 365, and Enterprise Management + Security. The 2X release also will support dynamic rotation, multi-user authentication, tiling, and other features Microsoft had been touting as coming originally with Surface Hub 2. It's believed the Surface Hub 2X will be based on the Windows Core OS and "Aruba" Surface Hub shell.
Officials on hand in New York today did not mention the Surface Hub 2X device at all during the event.