Microsoft Won't Start Shipping Surface Hub until January
Businesses eager to begin using Microsoft's Surface Hub -- the giant, touch-controlled, wall-mounted screen that integrates with the company's other devices and apps -- will have to wait a few months longer before they can put the technology into action. The Hub device, previously set to become available worldwide in September, will now begin shipping in January, Microsoft said today in a blog post.
Powered by 4th-generation Intel Core processors, the Hub will be available in two models: a 55-inch HD version starting at $6,999 and an 84-inch 4K version with a base price of $19,999. Built to run Microsoft's just-released Windows 10 operating system, the Surface Hub is being billed as a "powerful team collaboration device" for people in the workplace.
Microsoft said the Surface Hub "replaces a number of disparate tools and technologies, including the audio-video conferencing system, display, projector, wireless receiver, and the analog or digital whiteboard at a lower upfront cost." The company said it has seen "strong demand out of the gate" since it began taking preorders for the devices on July 1.
'Disruptive' Potential Requires Smart Launch
"Nobody likes a delay, but with the Surface Hub, I think Microsoft is wise to wait until they have all the kinks worked out of production," Tom Mainelli, program vice president for devices and displays at analyst firm IDC, told us. "While there are obviously customers who have preordered that will be disappointed, I think most of them will be better served by a more polished product."
Because it's likely that most buyers will have the devices permanently installed into spaces in their offices, it makes sense for Microsoft to take its time and ensure those installations eventually go as smoothly as possible, Mainelli said.
"[F]ixing a hardware issue after it has shipped to customers will be a serious and costly challenge," he said. Ensuring that every aspect of the device is ready for prime time is even more important because of the Surface Hub's "disruptive" potential, Mainelli added.
"So while timing is important, I think it's even more important that Microsoft get this product right," he said. "A poor launch, or poor reviews, based on less-than-perfect hardware or software could mean they miss this huge opportunity."
'Tuning' Manufacturing Based on Early Interest
We contacted Microsoft to learn more about the response it has seen from preordering customers so far, but a spokesperson told us the company is not sharing any information beyond what was included in its most recent blog post, first posted on July 13 and updated today.
"Based on the early interest we see, we're tuning our manufacturing process to prepare for production at broader scale," said Brian Hall, Microsoft's general manager for Surface, in the post. That process tuning included "adjusting our product roll-out schedule to ensure we deliver a great customer experience and set our partners up for success."
Both the 55-inch and 84-inch versions of the Surface Hub will be wirelessly enabled and will also support 1 Gbps wired connections and Bluetooth technology. They will also feature a near field communication reader; built-in, wide-angle HD cameras; infrared, imaging and depth sensors; pen and touch control; and wireless, all-in-one keyboards.