The first of Microsoft's Surface Hub 2 devices have landed in the UK, with audiovisual specialist Carillion taking on the first batch of 104 units.
The second iteration follows the original Surface Hub, which launched in 2016, and comes in two variations.
Surface Hub 2S is the follow-up to the original device and is now available, while 2X will follow next year.
The 2X device "will unlock previously dormant built-in capabilities", according to Microsoft.
This will include the ability to rotate the screen 90 degrees and use it in portrait mode.
The vendor says that all 2S units can be upgraded to 2X by upgrading a "module" in the device.
Barrie Guy, head of vendor and partner management at Carillion, said he expects adoption to outpace that of the original Surface Hub device, because of the focus on Microsoft Teams.
"I've been working with it for about a year and I've been allowed to see the product come to life with Microsoft, and I think it's totally different [to the first version] because Teams is more prevalent," he said.
"Microsoft is pushing the adoption of Teams and it works perfectly with Surface Hub 2 for everyone, whether they're at home or in an office space.
"It's a proper collaboration tool now, which I like because you don't have to buy any add-ons for it. I don't need to buy additional cameras or sound bars or anything else. I can just put it on the stand, and it works."
The first U.K. Surface Hub 2S's 104 of them in fact being delivered this morning thanks to @MaverickAVWorld @Marktil1968 @MSFTBusinessUK @AVMag @AVInteractiveUK @rAVePubs @AVNewsUK @avixa @avtweeps #MicrosoftTeams @sonia_dara @TheRegister @CRN_UK pic.twitter.com/jmxuLZsGG6— Carillion Comms (@CarillionComms) July 30, 2019
Guy said that anticipation for the product has built up for the last year and a half, after Microsoft announced it would be discontinuing the first Surface Hub.
He also expects Microsoft to broaden the scope of the partners it allows to resell the product.
Guy thinks that next year Microsoft will encourage more cloud players to add the Surface Hub to its arsenal.
"Because of where it sits within the Microsoft business, and with it being Teams-based, I think they may well broaden out the channel to some of the cloud providers next year, but I think there will always be a place [for AV specialists] because of all the upfront investment needed for AV installation and services teams," he said.
"We now have partnerships with people who we wouldn't normally work with, like Azure partners and CSPs, so I think the way forward is partnerships."
The landing of the Surface Hub has coincided with Microsoft's announcement that it will be killing Skype for Business in 2021, which Guy said was inevitable.
"Even us as a traditional AV SI - we've moved across to Teams from Skype because we know it is going to reach its end of life slowly," he said.
"If you speak to people in the Teams business, and maybe even on Microsoft's blogs, they have been open in saying that Skype for Business is being phased out slowly."
Joel Chimoindes, vice president of Maverick AV solutions at Tech Data, said that the Surface Hub triggered a change in the way customers buy their AV products - a shift he expects to accelerate as the uptake of the second generation begins.
Maverick is the exclusive distributor of Surface Hub 2 in the UK.
"Microsoft changed the collaboration landscape by releasing the first hub, which was the first time end users started to make decisions on buying a collaboration device based on the IT platform it had," said Chimoindes.
"Previously, people would buy the loveliest piece of glass and put it into the meeting room, but what the Surface Hub did really changed the game because of the 365 platform."
"The first hub was really just scratching the surface of the opportunity, and since that went to end of life we have seen unprecedented waiting by end users for the second one. It will accelerate the game in the same way the Hub one did."
Chimoindes also said that, like its predecessor, Surface Hub 2 can be mounted to a wall. However, he claimed that it is more mobile than the first version.
"The Hub 2 can be wall mounted or it can be put on a trolley," he said.
"The trolley is phenomenally designed and slinky looking, because the Hub 2 is designed to be wheeled around from room to room; it can be wall mounted as well, but it is designed to be a mobile device."
Chimoindes pointed out that Microsoft's collaboration offering does extend beyond the Surface Hub.
"The Microsoft Teams platform is really accelerating the discussions," he said.
"You've got Microsoft Teams Rooms from vendors such as Logitech, with their new tap solution which we launched at the beginning of this month, and there are also Windows Collaboration Displays which are due to be released in the next few months.
"So what you've got is a complete ecosystem of meeting rooms solutions based around Microsoft Teams."
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