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New Surface Hub 2 Meeting Room Products Expected in 2019

Microsoft on Tuesday described the Surface Hub 2, its next video-conferencing and whiteboarding big-screen touch device for meeting rooms.

Surface Hub 2 devices aren't available yet, but "select commercial customers" will start testing them sometime this year. The products will be available for purchase "in 2019," according to the announcement by Panos Panay, Microsoft's chief product officer.

The first-generation Surface Hub devices had options to use either 55-inch or 84-inch 4K touch-screen displays. Microsoft began shipping those devices about two years ago. Surface Hub 2 devices will have "4K+ 50.5" multitouch displays, according to Microsoft's announcement. A larger size wasn't mentioned, so possibly it won't be available. Panay described the Surface Hub 2 as "sleeker, more agile and more affordable to fit any workspace or work style."

Panay didn't describe the pricing or the internal hardware of the Surface Hub 2, but the older Surface Hub device at the 55-inch screen size is currently priced between $6,500 and $14,400, according to this search.

Panay indicated that Microsoft has sold its first-generation Surface Hub devices to "more than 5,000 customers across 25 markets."

The rectangular Surface Hub 2 screens can be rotated, with the image adjusting to the screen's orientation. Another new twist with Surface Hub 2 devices is there's an option to put these screens on wheels. Microsoft worked with Steelcase to create the stands so that it can be rolled into place.

Microsoft also is touting the aesthetic benefits of tiling four Surface Hub 2 devices together on a wall, which can be done either to showcase a single image or to display "multiple pieces of content side-by-side."

Another new element of the Surface Hub 2 is its multi-user authentication capability.

"Using multi-user sign in, multiple people can authenticate in the same Surface Hub 2 workspace, allowing them to simultaneously access their documents and ideas, merging them with the ideas of their teammates -- and making collaboration as natural as meeting at a whiteboard," Panay explained.

Surface Hub devices feature the use of Office software (Excel, PowerPoint, Word and OneNote) and Skype for Business software for video-conferencing, voice-over-IP, instant messaging and presence capabilities. The devices also have whiteboarding capabilities, which can be saved as OneNote files and distributed after a meeting for use on PCs. It's also possible for meeting attendees to use their devices to connect Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps to the Surface Hub screen.

The inclusion of the Office suite, whiteboarding capability and UWP software capabilities of the Surface Hub distinguish it from Microsoft partner-built Skype Room System products. Microsoft sees Surface Hub and Skype Room Systems as being two different products.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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