Microsoft finally releases giant Surface

surfacehub-demo-970-80Microsoft’s business customers are finally beginning to take delivery of the giant, Windows 10-powered digital whiteboard.

The Surface Hub, which is popular with television news shows, was supposed to ship in September and missed its January 2016 release deadline.

Microsoft added Surface Hub support to its software-as-a-service IT management offering, Operations Management Suite (OMS), in January. Now Surface Hubs are shipping with the agent software needed to connect to OMS so there is little setup needed.

Microsoft Programme Manager Laura Cruz said that all was needed was to configure the Surface Hubs to connect to an OMS workspace manually or by programming.

The touch-enabled Windows 10-powered device, available in a 55-inch and a 84-inch model, features built-in cameras, a microphone array, Bluetooth, WiFi, motion sensors and near-field communications (NFC). It runs Skype for Business, Office and OneNote, providing an “integrated collaboration experience” whatever that is, and at least with the 84-inch model, an expansive canvas for interactive presentations and virtual meetings.

Microsoft wants to get into the conferencing and collaboration market currently dominated by Cisco, Citrix and Polycom. The 55-inch Surface Hub costs $8,999 and the 84-inch 4K version costs $21,999, however it eliminates the need for several components that are typically required to outfit a conference room, including speaker phones, video conference systems and projectors.

According to a Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Vole the things have a three-year Net Present Value of more than $850,000 based on the observations of five early adopters. The figure represents savings due to reduced deployment and management costs, improved sales, less printing and fewer devices to purchase.