Microsoft announced this morning that its Windows 10-based Surface Hub will be available for order starting on July 1, with the devices shipping to customers in September. As you might expect, Surface Hub comes with a heady price tag: about $20,000 for the 84-inch 4K version, and $7000 for the 55-inch 1080p unit. But Microsoft can accurately claim this is aggressive pricing for the market Surface Hub targets.
“While there are a number of devices designed to improve our productivity as individuals, there has yet to be a device that is truly optimized for a group of people to use together, designed not just for what we need to do, but how we want to work,” Microsoft corporate vice president Mike Angiulo said in a prepared statement. “Until now. Just as the PC revolutionized productivity for individuals, Surface Hub will transform the way groups of people work together.”
While Surface Hub is based on Windows 10, and is of course a computing device, it isn’t a standard PC at all. As I wrote in Hands-On with Surface Hub back in early May, Surface Hub is instead a complete, standalone solution aimed at collaboration, a central hub around which a team of people can interact together in real time, both in the same room and remotely using Skype-based technologies. As a complete solution, Surface Hub comes with a keyboard, two Surface Hub Pens—the device supports many simultaneous multiple pen and touch inputs—and fully business-licensed copies of Windows 10 and Office and OneNote, and has no ongoing subscription fees.
Both of the main Surface Hub models are impressive, but of course the 84-inch version, with its 4K display and high-end Core i7 processor is the real stunner. The devices can be mounted on a wall in a dedicated conference room or collaborative space, or on stands that can be wheeled from room to room. Purchasing and installation are typically handled by a reseller, but Microsoft tells me it will work to get Surface Hub into its retail stores for hands-on tours, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.
Regarding the cost, Microsoft notes that businesses are refreshing conference rooms once every 3 to 5 years at an average cost of $38,000 to $54,000 for IT costs alone; that is, before the cost of furniture, installation, service, ongoing management costs, and so on. Surface Hub costs less than half that, and is in essence a collaborative center in a box. Costs for a conference room that would accommodate the lower-end unit are about $6,500 to $27,000, again not including furniture, installation, service, and ongoing management costs, so a similar savings can be had there as well.
Surface Hub will be available in 24 markets at launch, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. Customers can begin ordering the devices on July 1, and Microsoft says Surface Hub will begin shipping in September.
Microsoft is working with partners to bring Surface Hub to market. These include distributors such as ALSO, Ingram Micro Inc., Synnex Corp., Tech Data and TD Maverick; strategic resellers like Atea, AVI-SPL, Bechtle, CSI Collaboration Solutions, Inmac, Insight, Kelway, Misco, PCM, Red Thread, Telstra and Whitlock; control, automation and conferencing system suppliers like AMX and Crestron, and even the designers at Herman Miller.
This introductory video does a decent job of explaining how Surface Hub can transform a conference room into a truly collaborative space. I’m looking forward to spending more time with Surface Hub in the near future.
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