Ignite Microsoft has lifted a page from its gaming playbook and split its Surface Hub 2 product into two lines: the 2S and 2X.
The Surface Hub has carved itself a niche with businesses that have bought into the Office 365 world, providing an alternative to the meeting-room whiteboard with all manner of collaboration goodness via a giant, wall-mounted touchscreen. For a price, of course.
Back in May, Microsoft promised customers that Surface Hub 2 was on the way with previews due this year and actual product shipping in 2019. The hardware was to a be a 50.5-inch display with a resolution hike to "4K+" and would allow multiple screens to be snapped together.
So, first the good news. Microsoft has refined the date and it looks like the first devices will hit the retail channel during Q2 2019. Now the bad news, there will be two Hubs; the 2S, which arrives next year and sports the existing Surface Hub experience, and the 2X, which won't arrive until 2020 and will feature the rotation and tiling that got us all excited earlier this year.
Microsoft is putting a brave face on what a cynic might suggest is actually a delay of a year or so. The Surface Hub 2 will have new hardware, being thinner, lighter and more "vibrant" than the existing model. But it will still feature the old experience, jazzed up with the addition of Teams. Or, as Microsoft would have it, will be standardised with the existing experience. Yay.
Much more interesting is the 2X, which has been pushed out to 2020. This will see the arrival of tiling and the new user interface promised earlier this year. Fearful of putting off next year's buyers, Microsoft has adopted a processor cartridge approach to the Hub, meaning that a 2S will be upgradeable to a 2X via a hardware chassis on the back of the thing. There is no word on what the cost of this upgrade might be.
So don't bolt it too tightly to the wall, OK? ®