I got a lot of mail about the Surface Hub post yesterday. First off, I was asked are you crazy? I suspect in fairness to the person asking that question my posting about the Surface Hub has no bearing on my procession or lack of sanity. The people strongly against my article focused on two area’s of complaint. One is fair the other I think is not fair.
1. It is not a released product
2. It’s Microsoft. Plus these things have been around for a long time. They are already in the market this is not a game changer.
The first one is correct. The Surface Hub has not been released. The functionality is available however in the existing product Surface Pro that I have played with. It is a larger canvas than the Surface Pro and that is much better for passing around and sharing. So while the product isn’t available on the market the solution is, on a smaller scale. But I do agree that the product has not shipped as of yet. Therefore someone else could come to market with a competitive product that is better. Right now having looked at this market for the last five years this is the best pending product I’ve seen in this space. It is a game changer that will allow organizations and home offices to become more effective. It will allow classrooms to become connected around the world. It is a game changer.
From Microsoft? First off in the best sense of fairness I honed my skills at Microsoft for many years. I learned to be a consultant and an architect at Microsoft. I met many wonderful people during the halcyon days (most of whom are no longer at Microsoft) and I can honestly say this bias against Microsoft isn’t fair. During the time I was there and since Microsoft has been and remains one of the most innovative companies ever. It is not as stylistic as Apple, and not as cloud cool as AWS but it has made many innovations that have change the computer world. So the It’s Microsoft argument and they don’t innovate – silly.
The reality is that Smart Boards (including the company named Smart Boards) have been around for a while. They have interactive conference room displays you can install and use. Most of them are incredibly hard to operate and frankly the end game isn’t that viable. Ebeam is another option and it offers the ability to modify whiteboards and make them into interactive displays. You also have the newer capacity to use a projector that also creates a touchable field and a whiteboard. Reality is that these products are in the market and all of them have major limitations. I know. I have used any number of these in the past four years. I can honestly say the safest system is the simplest system at this point. Ebeam, simply having a device on a whiteboard is the most effective system. You can’t use your fingers to draw on an Ebeam screen. It is after all bound to its markets.
With the Surface Hub we move things radically. The first is because it’s a computer system in the conference room everyone can leave their laptops in their offices. Meetings with people sitting behind their laptops are less than useful. People who bring their laptops to take notes are awesome (if they share those notes). People who bring their laptops and then disengage from the meeting to check their critical email – are actually costing the company money. They would tell you that every minute they don’t respond to emails is costing the company money. The reality is they are wasting the time of everyone in the room with them.
Beyond fixing the horrible “bring my laptop to the meeting problem” having the Surface Hub in the conference room creates even greater capabilities. From on the fly video interaction with a remote person to quickly having an interactive whiteboard session with authors not just in the room. Surface Hub will be a game changer.
In the best of fairness I have knocked a number of Microsoft products over the years. I still think that they Windows Phone isn’t anywhere near where it should be. I moved from a windows phone to an iPhone and unlocked the universe four years ago. I can do more IoT related stuff with my iPhone long before people can do the same things with their windows phone. The ecosystem isn’t big enough now to support being released with iPhone and Android. But Surface Hub has truly impressed me. It looks like a game changer to me. If they can get the pricing down to less than 5000 dollars it is going to become the future of conference rooms.