April 18, 2019
Joel Hruska

Microsoft Surface Hub 2S to Ship in June, but the Future Ain’t Cheap

Microsoft loves tinkering with the idea of reinventing the collaborative work environment. Or, put differently, Microsoft hates meetings and screen-sharing just as much as you do, and is still trying to find a better way to bring all of these capabilities together in a form that provides better tools during meetings without making you want to die.

Image by Despair.com

Surface Hub 2S is Microsoft next-generation vision for improving the Office of the Future.  If you’ve got many thousands of dollars burning a hole in your pocket, the Surface Hub 2S could be the kind of tool you’re looking for.

The Surface Hub 2S will launch in June for $8,999, though the extra bells and whistles raise the total price to nearly $12,000. Included is a 50-inch 3:2 IPS 60Hz display (3840×2560) with an Intel 8th Gen Core i5 CPU, 8GB of DDR4, and 128GB of internal storage. Clearly, sheer hardware performance isn’t this thing’s strongest suit. The bezels are far thinner on the Surface Hub 2S, and the device itself is 60 percent thinner than the first-generation model. Microsoft has worked with Steelcase to design a wall mount ($250) or a stand/easel ($1,449) to hold the screen. There’s even an option to plug a battery into the chassis for two hours of battery life and no need to find a wall socket. That’s $1,400, if you’re interested.

Image by the Verge

Part of what makes the Surface Hub 2S interesting is that Microsoft is planning to offer “cartridge” upgrades that would add new capabilities and features to the device over time. We’re a bit dubious of the utility of this approach — in the past, companies like Samsung have made similar promises, all of which came to naught. Microsoft will make a CPU cartridge available next year that allows up to four Surface Hub 2S devices to be connected into a single contiguous display, The Verge reports. The entire “PC” is held within the cartridge, rather than within the larger screen.

This type of upgrade idea has always made good theoretical sense, but making good theoretical sense has never seemed to translate into robust product support. The fact that Microsoft is building these SurfaceSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce machines for the corporate space rather than consumers may improve the chances that we actually see the upgrades come to market.

Unfortunately, it sounds like major software development still needs to be done. The Surface Hub 2S is still using the same version of Windows as it was last year. Microsoft is working to improve efforts that allow multiple users to be logged in and using the device simultaneously. It’s also considering allowing Win32 apps to run on Surface Hub 2S (currently, those applications cannot run).

Whether it’ll ever lead to a better class of meeting isn’t certain, but Microsoft is certainly hoping it can deliver a more flexible kind of office display. From the sound of things, however, the company’s software efforts are lagging its hardware design by a bit.

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