Those hankering for a big bastard Surface Hub with a bit more horsepower could be in for disappointment as Microsoft appeared to confirm that the 2X won't be showing up any time soon.
Within months of Microsoft telling the world and its dog about the 2018 refresh, the Surface Hub 2 was cleaved in two by an axe-wielding engineer as the company faced up to the challenges of actually shipping the product. The 2S, with its 50+ inch "4K+" display eventually shipped in 2019 (and we liked it), but the 2X with its crowd-pleasing rotation and tiling abilities was supposed to follow in 2020.
It is now 2020, and the 2X (which was also to be a plug-in upgrade for the 2S) is conspicuous by its absence.
Judging by the partner presentations, you shouldn't hold your breath for that compute module. The focus is very much on getting an 85-inch 2S to market and also rolling out a Surface Hub 2 display into which customers can plug their own gear: for example, hardware for Win32 apps that are more demanding than merely drawing crude anatomical images on the whiteboard during Teams chats.
The representative went further and told listeners that the best way of achieving the updates that he reckoned had got 2S users most excited might not even need that compute module at all. Tiling, rotation and improved IT integration could potentially all be delivered without a cartridge, dashing the hopes of the more obsessive fanboys for yet another version of Windows on the cruel rocks of pragmatism.
And pragmatic the move is. Microsoft is planning a "major update" of the Surface Hub devices, with even the original version 1 getting in on the action. The update will be to the upcoming 20H1 version of Windows 10, and the company assured customers that there would be ongoing updates and the OS supported until 2025. Definitely in there will be improvements in IT management, according to the webinar. The keynote-friendly rotation and tiling may or may not follow at some point and there would be no charge for customers for the Windows 10 update.
And the promised hardware module? Not this year for sure, and maybe not ever. Those holding out for a 2X will be gently nudged toward a 2S.
The Register has approached Microsoft for a comment and will update if one is forthcoming.
In the meantime, the shift away from a hardware module and yet another exotic version of Windows for the niche-but-popular Surface Hub line seems sensible as the company focuses on bringing the slightly more mass-market Surface Duo and Neo devices to the hands of the public, replete with Windows 10X on the latter. ®
Updated at 09:28 GMT on 4 February 2020 to add:
Microsoft has been in touch to say: "We have an ongoing dialogue with our customers on Hub and are working to align the roadmap to best meet their needs. The top two priorities for Hub in 2020 are deploying the 85” device and rolling out an OS update that includes many top features customers have been requesting since Surface Hub 2S launched, including improving IT integration, deployment and management capabilities at no cost for all version 1 Hubs and Hub 2S devices. We'll have more to share in the coming months."