Microsoft Announces Windows Collaboration Displays Platform

Posted on June 6, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware with 12 Comments

Microsoft’s new Windows Collaboration Displays platform will let its partners create Surface Hub-like room-scale meeting and collaboration devices.

“Windows Collaboration Displays [are] large, interactive displays [that] will let people experience Microsoft 365 collaboration tools—Office, Teams, and Whiteboard—at room scale, and [they] include built-in sensors that can connect to Azure IoT spatial intelligence capabilities,” Microsoft’s Nick Parker explains. “This incredible technology will allow facility managers to utilize environmental data to make real-time decisions. A variety of collaboration displays, from Sharp and Avocor will be available later this year.”

Announced this week at Computex in Taipei, Taiwan, Windows Collaboration Displays are described as “a new category of teamwork devices,” which suggests that Surface Hub is now playing an aspirational role similar to that of Microsoft’s other Surface products. And that Microsoft is letting its hardware partners, including PC and display makers, in on the action.

In a pre-briefing, Microsoft’s Dinesh Narayanan talked up the “continued momentum” of the firm’s evolving intelligent edge strategy, noting that Windows Collaboration Displays were just part of a continuum of smart devices that can connect to the intelligent cloud. In doing so, Microsoft isn’t so much creating a new form factor, it’s providing new experiences on a familiar form factor.

And on that note, I only got a quick peek, in still image form, at a single Windows Collaboration Display, the Sharp 70-inch Collaboration Display. Sure enough, it looks like your basic giant screen, albeit with handles on the back and a top-mounted camera/sensor array.


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Comments (12)

12 responses to “Microsoft Announces Windows Collaboration Displays Platform”

  1. James Wilson

    Interesting to see who will use this type of thing - I get the impression it's primarily sales for now where potential clients are in a room and need to see a presentation.

    One thing Windows 10 needs is a 'presentation' mode where you can select an application (powerpoint for example) and with one keypress (Windows + something) disables everything else e.g. notifications, IM apps etc - anything that doesn't need to be in the presentation. So many times, I see a presentation where something pops up, a notification, an IM from someone, and it's very distracting. Some tools, like CISCO webex, allow you to share a single app and that works well, but for something like this, where it looks like a user logs in to Windows 10 on a large screen and fires up a local presentaion for local consumption (as well as, perhaps, remote users), this feature may be useful.

    Is this sort of device replacing a projector?

    • michael.hendricks

      In reply to James_Wilson:

      All good comments. I just wanted to let you know that Windows 10 already has a "Presentation Mode" though it is buried too far in settings to make it user-friendly to find. I always recommend to find it, then right-clicking the taskbar button and choosing to pin it to taskbar. But to find it, I would click Start, type Control Panel, open "Windows Mobility Center", then click the image of the projector in the Presentation Settings section. Whoohoo, now you have Presentation Settings open and can pin it to the taskbar. When presenting, you should enable this and all notifications will be disabled, the power settings are adjusted to not go to sleep and the screensaver will be turned off. Check it out. It works great and it has been there for years.

      On the Collaboration Display topic, we have two current Surface Hubs, both are fantastic and loved in our organization. I will be interested to see how these Collaboration Displays can be used and their place in the smart board universe. I wonder if we will see any of them at Ignite 2018!

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to James_Wilson:

      You can use a simple projector or monitor for straight presentations; I think this is primarily for collaboration purposes.

      Forgive me in advance for this little rant: If you see a notification or other on-screen intrusion during someone's presentation, generally they're just doing it wrong. This drives me nuts. The presentation should be displayed on a second, external screen; preferably in presenter mode. But so many people just duplicate their display on the second screen. I saw this again on Monday-- at a large presentation that included several global SVP's-- where a person duplicated their screen on the projector, shared their desktop via Skype and then put PowerPoint in reader mode. So the entire audience was treated to this woman's jumbled desktop, her cluttered taskbar, then her Inbox, and then her fumbling around with Skype. It could not have looked less professional.

      I can certainly understand people not caring enough to get into "speeds and feeds" or keeping up with Insider builds, but I'm baffled at the way so many people kind of nonchalantly shrug off their basic ignorance of the tools their work requires.

  2. plibken

    Imagine Samsung and other TV makers joining the Windows Collaboration Displays Platform...

  3. christian.hvid

    Big-screen collaboration devices like this one, and of course the Surface Hub, will become a huge thing in offices everywhere over the next couple of years. In fact, I believe many people will simply leave their desks behind and spend most of their workdays standing in front of a collaboration screen - boosting teamwork and general health simultaneously. 

    Incidentally, Windows 10 is far ahead of all other platforms for this type of application. Collaboration devices could be something of a black swan event for Windows, but in a good way.

  4. Tony Barrett

    MS must be throwing a lot of money at things like this that are unlikely to turn a profit as they're niche of a niche solutions. Maybe it's just part of their 'see what sticks' methodology. The number of actual customers they had for Surface Hub was tiny, and while this all looks impressive (as the mock ups always do), I can't see it really changing much, and will probably remain very, very niche, and at the end of the day, it's just another way to achieve death by PowerPoint!

  5. Chris Payne

    How is this different than just having a big tv with a mini Windows PC attached?

  6. chrisrut

    All in all, good news. It means there will be price competition for the sweet spot; so adoption could soar.

    We already have giant screens in all our corporate conference rooms - show us the compelling collaboration apps combined with the right price point and this could be a no brainer. A "wall" of these things would effectively allow us to extend meeting/work spaces into each other... with our data - virtually all of which is now in the cloud - right there for all.

    Fahrenheit 451 be damned! This could be a real boon to further embracing the decentralized work-place. The sense of "being there" even without VR/MR, could be quite remarkable. The need to haul your body along for meetings in a far-off places could be reduced substantially... I was going to quip "This should be good news for Brad" but on reflection, I think it's good news for everyone. The "living wall" could be the most meaningful innovation since the desktop.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to chrisrut:

      I'm with you, but I can't get any of my colleagues to even use video conferencing; most of them literally cover the camera on their computer.

    • jchampeau

      In reply to chrisrut:

      Only once have I seen technology truly provide a like-I'm-really-there videoconferencing experience. And it was a $300k full-on Cisco Telepresence setup. My team of four was in Boston and meeting with someone who was in Dublin, Ireland. Someone opened the door to the meeting room the Irish guy was sitting in and all four of us in Boston looked to our left to see who was coming in the door. That Telepresence deployment had rooms painted the same color on both sides and everything--it was astonishing how we wall easily forgot we weren't talking to a person sitting across the table from us. Audio was perfect and there was no noticeable latency. But that's the only time I've experienced something like that. I spend plenty of time on GoToMeeting/Zoom/Skype meetings and never do I have that "it's just like I'm sitting in the same room" experience. I think the "sense of 'being there'" of which you speak doesn't happen with relatively low-cost devices like this.

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