Microsoft Plans a New Family of Webcams for 2019

Posted on December 21, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Microsoft Surface, Windows 10, Xbox One with 20 Comments

It’s been several years since Microsoft has released a webcam. But two separate sources tell me that the firm is plotting a return to this market in 2019. And that at least one of the new 4K-capable cameras could work with both Windows 10 PCs and Xbox One.

This is a big deal on a number of levels.

For Windows 10 users, one new Microsoft’s webcam will provide Windows Hello-based authentication, marking the first time the firm has provided this capability on a standalone camera. To date, Microsoft has provided Windows Hello functionality via the camera systems built into its Surface PCs only.

On Xbox One, this webcam could provide a much-missed feature from the Kinect, the ill-fated peripheral that is no longer sold with that console: Users will be able to sign-in automatically simply by moving in front of the camera. This will work with multiple users, too, so that friends or family members can join an in-session game session.

Microsoft’s new webcams might be tied in some way to the new USB-C-based webcam that it will ship alongside Surface Hub 2 later this year as well. That device has multiple USB-C ports around its periphery so that you can mount a single camera where you like, or use multiple cameras. I’ve been told that one Microsoft webcam will be enterprise-focused, and I’m wondering if this isn’t, in fact, the same camera that will be used with Surface Hub 2. Certainly, a Surface-branded webcam with Windows Hello capabilities makes a lot of sense.


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Comments (20)

20 responses to “Microsoft Plans a New Family of Webcams for 2019”

  1. mebby

    A Surface-branded webcam with Windows Hello capabilities makes a lot of sense to me. I want one for my desktop.

  2. Clintvs

    I've not brought a Brio, because I've been expecting a 4k or hello Camera I hope this does eventuate.

  3. mrdrwest

    I keep thinking about the Band...

  4. solomonrex

    Microsoft owns the platform, they set the system requirements, they have Windows hello and Skype. They have to require this on new PCs, perhaps above a certain cost. Intel did Ultrabooks very successfully, Apple has face time, Microsoft can do it too.

    And on the Xbox, the issue with Kinect wasn't Kinect, it was the cost vs performance and the requirement. At least voice can be bundled in now. Streaming can be optional.

    I think, too, less ambitiously, they can do a streaming app for phone. They shouldn't be retreating on voice queries, they have Bing and Cortana, Windows and Xbox. They have all the pieces, they just need some persistence.

  5. allanwith

    In these days, where you can buy Amazon Echo devices and Google Assistant devices which also have built-in webcams for Skype, aso. it makes a lot of sense. Game streamers could use it too. Now that everything, including the UI is not tailored to air gestures, it becomes a different thing. BTW. If Microsoft were to ever release VR for the Xbox an external depth sensor might be helpful as well.

  6. Winner

    Well we know how Kinect went... Did it have an actual cam or just other sensors?

  7. emanon2121

    Would love a Webcam for the Xbox to be able to video chat family.

  8. factoryoptimizr

    I use multiple external monitors with my Surface Book 2 -- and keep the laptop closed and tucked away behind the monitors, so I can't use the laptop's internal camera. I've actually got a Logitech Windows Hello-capable webcam mounted on top of one of my monitors, and while I can use it for Skype, I can't use Windows Hello login because Windows 10's Windows Hello settings ONLY recognize the laptop's camera. There's no ability to switch to an external camera. I sincerely hope this changes with the release of a new Microsoft webcam!

  9. Maktaba

    They will make everything but a phone.

  10. m_p_w_84

    I quite like the windows hello (facial recognition) on my surface book. So looks good. But I’d like to hear Microsoft talking about improving their recognition technology to be on par, or better, than what’s on the iPhone.

  11. StevenLayton

    When we had a Kinnect on our old Xbox, we often used to Skype with family. Something nice about having the picture up on the TV. I'd certainly be interested in a Webcam for the Xbox one.

  12. Tony Barrett

    Is there really a market for webcams anymore, especially as I guess these ones will likely be pretty expensive? Would people really pay the money just so they can unlock their PC with Windows Hello? I'm really not so sure. Most laptops have webcams built in now, and PC's, well, I can't remember the last PC I saw with a camera clamped on top.

    • William Clark

      In reply to ghostrider:

      Game streamers have PC cams. Most of them don't use laptops for gaming.

    • secretlyclever

      In reply to ghostrider:

      I would say so, although the market might be limited. I work from home so using a camera on my desktop is useful for video meetings at work. The camera on my laptop is pretty terrible, so a 1080p camera makes a big difference . I find it much easier to get my daughter in frame using a stationary camera over a smartphone when I want to use Skype with my family.

      I wouldn't buy a new camera because of windows hello, but if I was already shopping I would seriously consider paying a little extra to include it as a feature.


    I would like them to just provide drivers and software for the Microsoft Web cam I already bought.

  14. harmjr

    I hope it can do tracking follow the users.

  15. thatdwayne

    Wouldn't you know I just ordered a Microsoft webcam - it arrived this week, surely pushing the karma button that ensures new tech is released just after I buy the no-longer-new tech ;^)

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