back to article Surface Hub 2: Microsoft's pricey whiteboard gets a sequel

Microsoft confirmed a refresh for its Surface Hub line last night, with new hardware likely to ship sometime in 2019. In a video heavy on a dramatic orchestral music and hints of new Windows interfaces, but somewhat light on detail, Microsoft showed off the newest edition of the overpriced whiteboard business collaboration …

  1. Daedalus Silver badge

    Inevitably...

    "Have you tried turning the whiteboard off and on again?"

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Inevitably...

      "Have you tried turning the whiteboard off and using an erasable marker..."

      1. A K Stiles
        Devil

        Re: Inevitably...

        "Have you tried turning the whiteboard off and using an erasable marker..."

        How long before someone tries writing on it with a (possibly not erasable) marker? or pokes at it with a biro? So many of the screens in a previous job had little blue and black poke marks all over them...

        1. }{amis}{ Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Inevitably...

          Could be worse I started out in hardware maintenance in the 90s and have lost track of the number of times I had to scrape tipex off of screens

          1. A K Stiles

            Re: Inevitably...

            At least you CAN scrape a CRT...

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Inevitably...

      http://dilbert.com/strip/1995-04-03

  2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Dwarf Silver badge

      Re: "hints of new Windows interfaces"

      On the positive side, at least they probably can't make it any worse than now..

      1. David Lewis 2
        Facepalm

        Re: "hints of new Windows interfaces"

        "On the positive side, at least they probably can't make it any worse than now.."

        Please don't offer Microsoft a challenge like that! They could, they really, really could!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "hints of new Windows interfaces"

      It is already a custom version of Windows 10, so nothing new.

      https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/surface-hub/differences-between-surface-hub-and-windows-10-enterprise

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This thing should be quite successful.

    Just like Kin, Zune, Kinect.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This thing should be quite successful.

      Weirdly the windows 10 forced app "TV & Films" under the hood is actually called Microsoft.ZuneVideo

      and their music selling forced app is Microsoft.ZuneMusic

      Thought all that had been shutdown?

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: This thing should be quite successful.

        "Thought all that had been shutdown?"

        Rename, reuse, recycle....

  4. chivo243 Silver badge
    Meh

    hefty, hefty indeed

    Wow, nice prices you got there.... too bad no one will pay them!

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: hefty, hefty indeed

      If you read the article it's clear people are paying them. This isn't for home use.

      1. joed Silver badge

        Re: hefty, hefty indeed

        And unfortunately end customers pay for this extravagance. And it's not like it really saved on travel money (while clogging pipes with tons of pointless video feed). And paper hand outs are still a thing. Paperless office is always just few years away.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: hefty, hefty indeed

          there is no indication the customers paid full price. The same goes for high end demonstration Smart kit when they released their amazing expensive panels. I know of a few demonstration schools who got very good prices to 'upgrade'.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: hefty, hefty indeed

      If only that was the case.

      Our sales director wants one, for reasons I don't yet fully grasp. They have a screen in there that is larger than this thing, and they have laptops. It's a "no" from me, but I imagine i'll be installing one next quarter.

      I think he enjoyed "minority report" and fancies him some of this.

  5. ravenviz Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    Microsoft hopes users will leap from their seats and prod the screens with excited fingers

    I'd like to see some successful use cases, filmed in the actual environment they were used in, instead of compressing an entire product development into a few minutes of dramatic video.

    What was presented is far too simplistic and requires significant C-level corporate vision, rather than a few SharePoint site collections splattered around the company network.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft hopes users will leap from their seats and prod the screens with excited fingers

      >What was presented is far too simplistic

      Agree, from what I read elsewhere, I suspect it was simplistic because the new features are in typical MS fashion largely unusable.

      For example, that wall of four screens is supposed to be four Surface Hub 2's tiled together. I expect, that much effort is needed to get the Surface Hub 2's to co-ordinate their displays and processing; as no one at MS would have played with Cube World.

      Which brings us to another point, if this is Win10 then why isn;t this functionality in the mainstream Win10 build: I have a Win10 tablet, just touch it to my laptop/desktop/tablet screen and it's automatically shared.

      Another example, see that 'flipchart' spun from portrait to landscape, note the camera, not only did it spin, but it was also not integrated into the bezel. For the amount of money MS want, I would expect two cameras in the bezel, with automatic switching based on auto-sensed orientation. But then once again, whilst I like the way they rotated the screen contents, why is this not part of mainstream Win10.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Microsoft hopes users will leap from their seats and prod the screens with excited fingers

        Interestingly (sorta) enough the competing Cisco spark boards do the seamless (sometimes) transfer thing. All spark apps (win, ios etc) emit an ultrasonic tone that when picked up by a Spark board offer to switch or include the meeting and content on the spark board.

        When it works its cool (Chromecast for webex) when it doesnt (eg custom audio drivers in Windows BORK it).

        The downside is that the Spark app pretty much does exactly the same thing as the Webex app. why 2 are needed I have not a clue.

        1. Salestard

          Re: Microsoft hopes users will leap from their seats and prod the screens with excited fingers

          >The downside is that the Spark app pretty much does exactly the same thing as the Webex app. why 2 are needed I have not a clue.

          That's changing - it's a legacy of Cisco buying things in, rather than organically growing a mutually compatible ecosystem.

          This, apparently, is happening soon(tm)

    2. greenawayr

      Re: Microsoft hopes users will leap from their seats and prod the screens with excited fingers

      Just entering construction phase of a government agency project where we have project management and Intranet on SharePoint, PowerBI dashboards, BIM models and 3D CAD drawings. Tehy've bought into VR to help the residents of the new construction plan their workspace, and they'll buy into these sorts of displays for meetings...because, well there's lots of meetings, and these things are proven to get execs more excited than powerpoint...FACT!

    3. Nimby Bronze badge
      Trollface

      Re: Microsoft hopes users will leap from their seats and prod the screens with excited fingers

      "I'd like to see some successful use cases"

      Successful use-case? Sure. Every time the clicker fails a user leaps from their seat to prod a screen with an excited finger ... to advance to the next page of their PowerPoint presentation.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is actually a 'PR release' statement, not a product for topping sales charts.

    "Microsoft is an innovative, forward-thinking company which understands productivity, you can trust your investment in us and our other products."

    Take note the product is tentatively to be released in 2019. Anything can happen between now and that time.

    1. Salestard

      Re: This is actually a 'PR release' statement, not a product for topping sales charts.

      >"you can trust your investment in us and our other products."

      Well, I'm specifically targeting Lumia 950 owners with that strapline.

      Indeed, during the one day's Surface Hub training I had, I raised this very issue with the MS team. Much sucking of teeth, shuffling of feet, before eventually "yeah, maybe best not pitch this to a customer with a Windows Phone"

  7. DailyLlama
    Thumb Up

    I quite like ours...

    We've got 3 of the 84" screens and 11 of the 55" ones, and they're great. You can connect wirelessly, or with cables, when you schedule the meeting, the room is invited to it and the Surface just becomes a medium for the meeting to happen in. It's part of the Skype conference, so everyone can see what's presented, you can see and hear the people who aren't in the room. Used properly, they're actually a really good collaboration tool.

    *I'm not paid by Microsoft, but am entirely open to bribery..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I quite like ours...

      >We've got 3 of the 84" screens and 11 of the 55" ones, and they're great.

      I'm sorry, but if you actually used one and know what you're talking about, you should be disqualified from posting in this thread. How can other posters feel smug bashing it anymore when you show up with actual facts?

      1. doublelayer

        Re: I quite like ours...

        I wonder how this works better than your standard big screen if you're using it to display remote conferences; I've known people to use big TVs and a camera for that, which is cheaper. If the processing directly on the screen does help, what does it provide that using a windows computer connected to a similar screen doesn't do. Finally, does anyone actually touch the screen, because I'm going to go on record and say that I don't want to deal with an 84-inch touch screen.

        1. Def Silver badge

          Re: I quite like ours...

          I wonder how this works better than your standard big screen if you're using it to display remote conferences.

          The last company I worked for had some weird video conferencing system (that was probably a competitor to Cisco) that you could dial into from any of the meeting rooms, providing said room had a PC and a screen in it. It mostly worked for conference calls, and sharing a screen worked more or less as you would expect. Where it didn't work was trying to use the whiteboard during a conference call that was invariable located next to one of the screens (or when it wasn't, impossible to read anything that was actually written).

          The current company I work for basically uses Google Hangouts for conference calls, which is about as cheap and as shit as you can get. We have the same problems as before with regards to viewing the whiteboard remotely, as well as a raft of new problems with feedback from the screen-shared TV interfering with the audio quality and the terrible UI of Hangouts.

          So I can definitely see a use case for a whiteboard/conference call/presentation board in one handy package. Given that half our team like to use Macs as their day to day machines (what weirdos, eh?), I'm not sure whether this would be it.

  8. }{amis}{ Silver badge
    Devil

    Expensive?

    To play the devil's advocate for a mo even if it only makes 1 in 10 software planning meetings clearer how long does it take to pay off that $20K.

    Because I know that even at that kind of crappy ratio in my office it would easily pay for itself under a year!

    1. ravenviz Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Expensive?

      In our company (well, in our division), we equate a revenue generator's time at $15/minute == $15/minute lost opportunity* at each time solving badly setup AV in meeting rooms. I could predict a direct correlation between 'IT savings' (i.e. reduced overhead) on investment in proper installation and training that then gets passed on to the revenue generating part of the organization as a reduction in margin.

      *10 participants waiting 10 minutes to sort out the AV before every meeting can start = $1500 lost opportunity** / compressed project time frame / late delivery / corner cutting to take account of the time / rework because of corner cutting / employee extra work after hours to make up the time / employee burn out ... it can add up**

      ***8 meetings a month x 12 months = $144,000***

      ***individual results may vary

      1. }{amis}{ Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Expensive?

        well reasoned I hadn't even thought about the amount of time that goes down the drain every day fighting with our Epson projectors.

  9. Salestard

    They're good... but...

    We sell them. I've sold a couple.

    They're really nice bits of kit, no mistake. They also make sense if you're in the ecosystem.

    However, I would suggest the use case is fairly narrow - if you're doing truly collaborative whiteboarding across different sites, and you need an excellent hand drawing capability, then they're bang on the money. Software planning, marketing/advertising, engineering, etc etc.

    If your use case is to just webex/teleconf, and batter the snot out of people with slideware, then just get a Cisco Spark board because it's a damn sight cheaper.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: They're good... but...

      >However, I would suggest the use case is fairly narrow - if you're doing truly collaborative whiteboarding across different sites, and you need an excellent hand drawing capability, then they're bang on the money.

      The problem is that many of those doing this are small companies who can't justify the large expense. Now if all this functionality was within a normal 'tablet' (I'm thinking of a 19~24" device such as the Dell XPS-18 - no successor product spotted as yet) then things might be different.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: They're good... but...

        World cup?

  10. peterm3
    FAIL

    A can't recommend these

    I worked with the smaller version - they costs the best part of €10.000 and are fairly useless. Some end up just being used as external monitors. I guess we haven't completely bought in enough to the Microsoft Future Workplace enough to get enough out of them.

  11. J J Carter Silver badge
    Linux

    But seriously

    I may be interested if I can install Linux Mint on it.

  12. DrBed

    PiWall?

    Raspberry PiWall is not near interactive etc as Surface Hub ...then again, it is not "$21,999 respectively". Not even close. Beside, modular design of PiWall allows using hundreds of screens in video wall (at least in theory: last news from site is "Working on a large scale wall (300 screens) for a private client").

    http://piwall.co.uk/

    1. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: PiWall?

      I do not want to be the tech who gets called in when marketing can't do their presentation on that one.

      In related news, over a decade ago I worked at a client that had a setup I called the "War Room" (as in the movie "War Games") with a high wall equipped with a few dozen large screens showing everything from CNN to stock and commodity prices.

      It belonged to a grocery supermarket chain.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: PiWall?

        there are just as many other options. Just look at interactive kit in schools, they need to be robust and work forever.

        1. Is It Me

          Re: PiWall?

          I came here to mention the "smart" boards in schools, aka interactive whiteboards.

          If teachers can use them they can't be too complicated.

  13. RudderLessIT

    Lols at some of the comments here

    I have implemented them in a previous role and I plan to do so again.

    What I find amusing is organisations that have spent big money on a VC system, with the touch panel, the cables poking out of the middle; the extra microphone & speakers; the mini rack of stuff you need to run it - and then at the other end or the room, or behind the dropdown screen, is the Whiteboard and there are the attendees taking photos and trying to figure out how to use both at once.

    I like some of the features of Googles, but the scope is more limited and you cannot present the screen and the room at the same time.

    Version 1 comes with 84" (which is apparently no longer being produced), so if I have two ot three side by side, I wonder how using them as a whiteboard will work?

  14. Waseem Alkurdi

    Deja vu?

    I've seen that somewhere before ...

    ... Oh right! I've remembered it! It was called the Microsoft Surface (the coffee table)! It was big, cost $$$, had a custom version of (Vista then, 10 now), and was a failure! And folks who have bought these table things are off w/o support!

    I thought I heard something about history repeating itself before.

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