Microsoft originally announced the Surface Hub 2 in May. Now the company has revealed that it's actually making two variants of the device, the Surface Hub 2S arriving in the second quarter of 2019 and the Surface Hub 2X set to debut sometime in 2020. People who buy the earlier model won't have to worry about suffering buyer's remorse, though, because the company has devised a way to upgrade the 2S into the 2X.
The Surface Hub 2S is essentially a basic version of what Microsoft announced in May: an iteration of the collaborative work tool featuring a "lighter, thinner, more vibrant design" and improved AV equipment. The company specifically noted in today's announcement that it made the Surface Hub 2S for customers who said they want an updated Surface Hub that offers the same functionality as the previous one with the usual improvements.
That should be enough for many businesses. Microsoft introduced the Surface Hub line to make presentations, conference calls, and other aspects of working in an office with other people less frustrating. Instead of having to huddle around a single monitor--or fiddle with a projector that only one person actually knows how to use--the Surface Hub 2S lets people use a 50.5" display with a 4K or greater resolution to achieve the same goal.
Businesses that want to expand beyond the original Surface Hub's purpose will be able to turn to the Surface Hub 2X. Microsoft explained:
"Looking forward to 2020, we will release updates to the Surface Hub family to enable customers to update to Surface Hub 2X. This includes the ability to tile, rotate, and enable multi user log in. This simple update is enabled by our design of removable processor cartridges, in an easily accessible hardware chassis on the back of the Surface Hub 2. This processor cartridge can be removed, upgraded and serviced over time. The cartridge is what will enable customers to make the switch to the Microsoft 365 powered Surface Hub 2X in 2020."
This appears to be a way for Microsoft's business customers to have their cake and eat it too. Many probably want the convenience of a device they can take out of the box, plug in to the wall, and use for however long it takes for Microsoft to release a new one. (And get the appropriate budget approval, of course.) These processor cartridges, however, also offer an upgrade path that doesn't require the purchase of an entirely new device.
We should note, however, that Microsoft also promised that many of the features coming with the Surface Hub 2X would be part of the Surface Hub 2 it announced several months ago. The Surface Hub 2S is a stop-gap on the way towards delivering those promised features (tiling, rotation, etc.) before they arrive with the Surface Hub 2X sometime in 2020. Microsoft offering its customers a cheaper model could just be a happy coincidence.
Most details about the Surface Hub 2 (opens in new tab) product family remain scarce. Microsoft hasn't shared pretty much anything regarding the products' technical specs, from the processors they will use to the quality of their displays, and planning to release the Surface Hub 2S in the second quarter of 2019 probably means that information won't arrive in the near future. Maybe by then we'll get more letters involved, too, just to be on the safe side.