Microsoft officially unveiled its rebooted Surface Hub with help from Steelcase and APC.

Jeffrey Schwartz

April 18, 2019

6 Min Read
Panos Panay Surface Hub 2

(Pictured above: Microsoft’s Panos Panay shows off the new Surface Hub 2S at an event in New York City, April 18.)

The reboot of Microsoft’s Surface Hub conferencing and collaboration hardware will arrive in the U.S. this June with a thinner and substantially improved active touch, 4k display and eagerly awaited integration with Office apps and Teams.

Microsoft on Thursday officially launched the new Surface Hub 2S during a media event at the New York City office of Steelcase, the commercial furniture supplier and partner that developed a unique stand that allows workers to easily move the machine among different conference or huddle rooms. Also revealed was the pricing. A complete Surface Hub 2S will cost $9,000, plus $1,500 for the custom-designed Steelcase Roam, also introduced at the event and slated for distribution through IT channel partners via Ingram Micro, Tech Data and Synex.

An optional battery pack designed specifically for the Surface Hub 2S from APC will allow users to move the system in the middle of a meeting without having to pause the session. The battery pack, which costs $1,400, lets the Surface Hub 2S run unplugged for about two hours.

Both Microsoft and Steelcase emphasized the mobility aspect of the new Surface Hub 2S, and forthcoming models, as a prerequisite of modern work environments.

“Move it down the hallway, you want to keep your team in flow,” said Panos Panay, chief product officer of Microsoft’s Surface group, speaking at the New York City launch event. “You can use it anywhere, bringing people together from anywhere, no matter how or where they want to work; it can happen on this product and it is absolutely gorgeous.”


The new Surface Hub 2S weighs 61 pounds and has a 50-inch screen.

At 61 pounds, the new system’s 50-inch display is 40 percent lighter than its predecessor with narrow bezels and powered by an Intel 8th Generation Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, Wi-Fi, Ethernet and Bluetooth interfaces, as well as several USB-C ports, a 4k camera, a subwoofer and three front-facing speakers. Panay emphasized the improved touch display has better contrast and faster response and can render up to 9.8 million pixels. Likewise, an included pen and improvements to the Microsoft Office Whiteboard app will allow meeting participants to annotate with digital ink.

Microsoft also previewed a prototype of an 85-inch version set for release next year. Behind the scenes at the event, engineers demonstrated the 2X, an upgrade slated for next year that allows users to pivot from landscape to portrait mode. Early adopters of the Surface Hub 2S will be able to upgrade to the forthcoming 2X by swapping out a modular cartridge that the engineers displayed.

While it has a 128 GB SSD, it’s not designed for local storage and no data is left on the system, for security purposes. It runs Windows 10, the Microsoft Edge browser and can run Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps. It runs Office apps including the improved Microsoft Whiteboard, which now includes support for PDFs and is optimized for conferencing using the Teams interface. It doesn’t natively support third-party conferencing such as Zoom or Cisco Webex, though a user can connect another PC to the system through its Display Port interface.

Microsoft first demonstrated a prototype of the revved Surface Hub at last fall’s Ignite conference. At the time, the  company only promised the 2S would arrive sometime this year. Panay emphasized the improved touch and digital inking experience and the notion that it is designed for ideation.

“We’ve actually taken the sensor layer of the product and we’ve  layered it into the display itself,” said Panay. “This is critical because …

… now we have every pixel integrated. It’s thinner, it has a more beautiful screen than we’ve shipped before, it’s got better contrast, faster response from what you saw on the first Surface Hub, and now has tablet class accuracy and precision.”

Partners and customers have awaited the improved system, according to analysts. Microsoft introduced the first Surface Hub in 2015 but it didn’t ship until the following year. Many partners struggled to get inventory, said industry analyst Ira Weinstein, founder and managing partner of Recon Research, which follows the enterprise collaboration and communications platforms industry.

“What happened was they prioritized certain countries and then they ran out of stock,” Weinstein said. “They went out and pitched it and were unable to ship, which was very disappointing to a lot of channel partners and customers. And then they just never replenished the stock.”

Although Weinstein hasn’t yet seen the new Surface Hub upgrade, he is skeptical about customer demand for the mobility aspect of the new system.

“I’ve never heard a single customer say to me, ‘I love Surface Hub, but it’s really too thick and heavy to be good for our environment — if only it were portable,’” Weinstein said.

Regardless, Weinstein, who uses the original Surface Hub and considers himself a fan of the earlier system, believes there is pent -p demand for the new units, especially in wake of the first model’s inventory shortages.

“I think the channel partners have been waiting for this,” he said. “The channel just needs product to move.”

ZK Research principal analyst Zeus Kerravala sees the new Surface Hub 2S as a more substantial upgrade and has a harsher view of the earlier release.


ZK Research’s Zeus Kerravala

“I likened the first version to a really expensive computer that you hung on a wall or put on a cart,” Kerravala said. “Customers that have used it, including some integrators, said it wasn’t a very good device. The concept was interesting, but the implementation wasn’t that great. This new system is much more designed for the modern worker and I think this will be a very hot space.”

Steelcase, for its part, hopes to ride on that anticipated demand for the new system with its Roam mobile cart, and its entire line of office furniture designed for modern work environments. Partners can offer not only the Roam mobile cart for the Surface Hub 2S but also help organizations optimize their office space with the technology their employees use.

“We also have a whole system of sensors that we can bring into offices to understand how they want to modernize how they use their space with all of the atmospheric things that are happening in their space,” said Christina Vernon, senior market developer for strategic partnerships at Steelcase. “We can do all sorts of different things that are based on our partnership with Microsoft on the Azure platform and our use of analytics and things like that. We’ve developed a whole ecosystem throughout our product offering.”

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

Free Newsletters for the Channel
Register for Your Free Newsletter Now

You May Also Like