Surface Hub 2S Conference Devices Can Now Run Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise
Microsoft on Tuesday announced the ability to run Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise operating systems on Surface Hub 2S conference devices.
Putting those OSes on a Surface Hub 2S device essentially turns it into a personal device. Why an organization might want to do such a thing wasn't explained, but it's a fairly involved process, as detailed in Microsoft's announcement.
Surface Hub 2S as Personal Device
Typically, the Surface Hub 2S runs an operating system called "Windows 10 Team" that's designed to support meetings and multiple user access (known as the "walk up and use" feature). However, when the Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise OS gets installed, the Surface Hub 2S device no longer is optimized for meetings. Instead, it's optimized for personal use, and it's a fairly big device with its 43.2-inch screen.
Another major difference when adding the Pro or Enterprise OS to the device concerns the kinds of applications that can be run. The Surface Hub 2S with its Windows 10 Team OS can only run Microsoft Store applications. However, with Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise installed, the Surface Hub 2S can run Windows Store apps, Win32 (Windows 7 apps) and x64 apps.
Installing Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise on the device also knocks out the security measures that come prebuilt with Microsoft's Surface Hub 2S conferencing devices. This detail is briefly noted in a table in the announcement, but which security measures go away wasn't explained. However, users of the Pro or Enterprise OS editions will lose the Surface Hub 2S' walk up and use feature.
On the plus side, Surface Hub 2S users of Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise OS get support for USB accessories, which isn't available with the device when running the Windows 10 Team OS. They also get the ability to use biometric sign-in devices, such as the "Surface Hub 2 Fingerprint Reader or third-party Windows Hello accessories." In addition, it's possible to use the Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection service to protect the Surface Hub 2S device when the Pro or Enterprise OS is used.
Using the Pro or Enterprise OS also lets Surface Hub 2S users turn on "kiosk mode" in the Surface Hub 2S. Kiosk mode is typically used to turn tablets into point-of-sale devices, as might be used in retail stores. The exact use for kiosk mode in the fairly large Surface Hub 2S devices wasn't elucidated. It is possible, though, to put Surface Hub 2S devices on stands and wheel them about.
What About Surface Hub 2X?
In general, Microsoft's Surface Hub product plans have been a bit vague. Last year, Microsoft described a coming cartridge for Surface Hub 2S products that would upgrade them to a coming Surface Hub 2X product. The Surface Hub 2X product was said back then to be bringing features such as the ability to rotate the screen while keeping its image orientation, and the ability to tile multiple Surface Hub screens. In January, press accounts had suggested that the Surface Hub 2X devices had stalled or were dead.
Leaked Microsoft presentation materials suggested that the cartridge upgrade for Surface Hub 2S devices possibly wasn't needed after all. Instead, a software upgrade might be coming to add the Surface Hub X capabilities, per a February report by The Verge.
Not much more about Microsoft's plans has been said publicly since that time. Microsoft's announcement on Tuesday characterized the ability to run the Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise OS on the Surface Hub 2S as just being there to support "different kinds of flexibility" in how people might use the device.
Possibly, the new OS install options will create a stepping stone toward adding the missing Surface Hub 2X capabilities, but Microsoft remains mum on the matter.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.