When the Surface Hub was first announced in 2015, there was nothing quite like it out there. The all-in-one video conferencing, digital whiteboard and presentation device was a thing of beauty. It promised to turn any area into a collaborative space, whilst accelerating the adoption of a modern workplace.
Fast forward to 2020, and Surface Hub is set to win over a new legion of fans with a number of key improvements recently announced. Before we take a closer look, let’s rewind 12 months to understand how these significant updates came to be.
It’s fair to say the future of Surface Hub 2 looked very different only a year ago. On the horizon was a new model – the 2X – and an interchangeable compute cartridge to deliver many of the 2X benefits to existing 2S devices.
However, the people spoke, and Microsoft listened. In response to both user feedback and evolving technology trends, Microsoft pivoted their 2020 roadmap to prioritise a major operating system upgrade. Compatible with both Hub 1 and Hub 2, it’s expected mid-2020 and will address a number of emerging demands:
Before diving into the software upgrade, let’s first look at some forthcoming hardware updates.
The generously sized Hub 2S has proven its value in almost all environments, but when it comes to more expansive boardrooms, customers have reported that bigger would be better.
Measuring in at 85.6 inches, the functionality of this new addition will mimic the current 50.5-inch Surface Hub 2S. It will, however, have a 16:9 aspect ratio to reflect the ‘head of boardroom’ application, as opposed to the 3:2 ratio of the current model.
A little perspective on size – we’ve heard reports of some customers using cranes and removing windows to get Hub devices into the building! In response, some significant savings were made by the Microsoft design team, resulting in the newer model coming in at 11% narrower, 48% thinner and 33% lighter.
The Display will boast the same hardware as the Surface Hub 2S, minus the compute cartridge. Just as the 85.6-inch version was designed with the boardroom in mind, the Display is tailor-made for smaller spaces that already feature a Microsoft Teams Rooms console (more on that below).
The addition of a battery means that for the first time, users can untether their Surface Hub 2S and truly turn any nook or cranny into a physical team workspace. You may recall this being previewed last year, but it’s now become available for pre-order.
The battery features 90-minute charge time and allows the device to stay unplugged for 100 minutes. Installation will be simple, with the battery inserting into the shelf on the Surface Hub 2S Steelcase stand.
Back to the software upgrade now – let’s take a deeper look at the upcoming deployment, management and collaboration upgrades.
What does all this mean? For IT, the cloud-based Azure AD primarily means easier and more secure management and deployment. For users, it will provide a streamlined sign-on process with all of their apps – PowerPoint, Word, Excel, etc. – automatically signed into upon accessing the device.
To better manage and support Hub 2S devices, while also bringing a bit more functionality and control, the upcoming update will include numerous new and updated device management policies. For example, IT will be able to remotely update the device name in Azure AD or enable or disable Miracast. Azure Monitor will also be included, offering IT real-time device insights to identify and resolve problems and automate log collection.
Here’s where the device really starts cranking, with a range of crowd-pleasing enrichments. Let’s take a closer look at some of the highlights.
In what is a big leap forward for collaboration, you will now be able to use two pens simultaneously. Combined with some additional shortcuts, the pen upgrades will likely be one of the most popular improvements for end users.
For many, simultaneous pen support will prove particularly handy during brainstorming sessions or collaborative meetings via Microsoft Teams. Officially Microsoft Teams certified, Hub 2S will bring colleagues together like never before, thanks to 4K+ resolution, integrated mics and speakers, a 90-degree HOV modular camera and natively integrated apps like Microsoft Whiteboard.
Many companies have been ditching clunky legacy teleconferencing solutions and replacing them with Microsoft’s meetings and calling solution, Teams Rooms. This, in turn, has increased demand for a Microsoft Teams Rooms and Surface Hub 2S integration, which Microsoft have prioritised in the upgrade.
For those not versed in Teams Rooms Systems, Microsoft Teams Rooms transforms the meeting room into a rich, video-enabled collaboration space. There’s a small console that acts as a control unit for video conferencing gear such as displays, cameras and microphones, allowing you to initiate an online meeting with just one touch.
These Teams Rooms systems are perfect for smaller meeting rooms or huddle spaces that don’t feature a Hub device. But in larger spaces that have both, the Microsoft Teams Rooms and Hub 2S will be completely integrated, which will make joining and managing meetings even more convenient.
They’ve also provided the flexibility for Teams to integrate with Cisco Webex and Zoom on the Hub, meaning you’ll be able to offer a seamless guest experience for customers running either of those platforms.
Finally, for anyone who struggled with app compatibility on Surface Hub 2 – both Microsoft and third-party – you’ll now enjoy far more progressive web app support to address these issues.
Our customers tell us that they see the Surface Hub 2 as the future of collaboration devices, and it’s already powering the modern meeting experience of today. If you’re looking to embrace Surface Hub 2 for the first time with a Modern Meeting Proof of Concept, or want to learn how these new announcements will take your existing fleet to the next level, get in touch today.