20Microsoft Surface Hub 2X — to be or not to be? Seemingly not now and maybe not ever.
Microsoft has finally addressed the fate of the Surface Hub 2X device we heard tell of. Remember? It was announced in 2018 as coming in 2020 with a new OS that enabled unique features such as tiling, dynamic rotation, and more. Obviously for our industry it felt like a winner.
Coming from Microsoft it seemed like it would not be vaporware. But Microsoft has always struggled with the Surface Hub. I remember vividly, years ago, when the product appeared at InfoComm. I talked to the product manager on the show floor and it was a little…disorienting. Even his vocabulary as he talked about features demonstrated that he did not know the AV industry on really even the most basic level. This is not a dig–it was just a lightbulb as to how the most successful company in IT could not get AV.
This latest news on what was to be Surface Hub 2X comes via a webinar aimed at customers and resellers. Microsoft says that focus has shifted over to delivering the 85-inch Surface Hub 2S, and that it doesn’t anticipate releasing a Surface Hub 2X this year.
And we’ve tried so hard to embrace it: In 2015, Crestron announced that it would pair natively with Surface Hub and then released turnkey Surface Hub meeting packages. In 2016, HARMAN announced support for Surface hub in AMX Rapid Project Maker. Also in 2016, Chief shipped a Surface Hub mount, and PeerlessAV expanded their SmartMount line to the Surface Hub. Then HARMAN announced support for Surface Hub in AMX. In 2017, Advanced was named partner reseller for Surface Hub and launched a dedicated website. These are just a few of the AV headlines that revolved around the Surface Hub.
So what happened on this latest round?
Microsoft had been planning to ship the Surface Hub 2X with a new OS called Windows Core, a modular platform that we’re familiar with from HoloLens 2 and Surface Neo. It seems similar plans for the 2X have been shelved for now. Some of the unique features touted as part of the 2X will now be coming to the 2S in the form of a software update, which will be based on the existing Windows 10 Team SKU instead.
This flips what was the key plan for the Surface Hub 2X. It originally got it’s own SKU because Microsoft Core OS was not an over the air update. (Existing customers were going to get .a nifty sounding upgrade processor cartridge). Now that Windows Core isn’t coming to Surface Hub and the Surface Hub 2X may not be coming at all, the new plan is to make the features we were looking forward to work on Surface Hub 2S.
Which means that Surface Hubs are running on a three year old platform. Both Surface Hub V1 and Surface Hub 2S are running Windows 10 Team version 1703. Now that Windows Core OS isn’t coming anytime soon, Microsoft will reportedly update Windows 10 Team to version 2004 for both Surface Hub 1 and 2S–and that’s how we may or may not get features like tiling and rotation. It’s not entirely clear whether those actual features are coming or not and if so whether they would be through a cartridge update v1 and 2S. Murkiness abounds.
So will the Surface Hub ever get Windows Core like it’s AV sibling HoloLens 2?
That’s not clear.. Microsoft states that it “may or may not” do so at some point down the line ship a Surface Hub 2X. And it’s not clear whether it may or may not have Windows Core?
It still leaves the question hanging in the air: why has Microsoft halted plans to ship Windows Core OS on the Surface Hub 2? I don’t know. Sheer speculation in the tech press is that Windows Core OS was too lightweight for Surface Hub 2. Some have speculated that Surface Hub 2X will actually get a variant of Windows 10X at some point (which is also based on Windows Core OS).
Are we really just waiting for Surface Hub 3?