I finally got some hands on time to play with the Surface Hub and my impressions have been adjusted considerably. As someone who works with Lync & Skype for Business continuously I was thinking in terms of “this is a Lync Room System” replacement (when, in fact, Microsoft made no such claim. It just looks like one physically and does meetings so it is easy for Lync/Skype for Business pro’s to think in this direction) It really is a collaboration device that can also do meetings.
The way I would describe the Surface Hub is a specialty Windows 10 PC with a user interface tailored for large touch screen applications meant to be interacted with by touch. Instead of the standard Windows 10 user interface the Surface Hub runs apps inside a black border (black frame around the applications). This black frame around the apps includes quick navigation shortcuts to things like Make a Call, Instant Message and more. These shortcuts can reinforce the “It’s a Room System” misunderstanding but once again, this device is really about collaboration in front of a large touchscreen with the added ability to do Skype for Business meetings & calls.
A few things about the Skype for Business application that runs on the Surface Hub. First, it is a Skype for Business Universal app written specifically for the Surface Hub. It also has a unique feature not in the standard or Windows Store Skype for Business client which is that it can switch between two cameras automatically. (I would love this functionality in standard app & SDK) The Surface Hub has two cameras on the left and right and as you move around in front of the Surface Hub it will detect which is the best camera and automatically switch to it. Also note that the cameras are angled and very wide angle so they catch the action directly in front of the Hub, which is another indicator the Hub tailored for active collaboration in front of the device as opposed to a room system orientation.
[in progress article, more coming]
It’s a platform to run large screen applications, not a Room System.