Businesses will see the attraction in a device that makes remote meetings more flexible
Microsoft is including some seriously sexy stuff in its plans for Windows 10, pushing it as not just an operating system but a platform to bring together a number of devices and a big range of applications. The plans for holograms and integrating the Xbox and PCs are the obvious sources of excitement, but it could be the Microsoft Surface Hub – essentially a large screen for remote meetings – that provides the initial boost.
While the early speculation on Windows 10 focused on rectifying the mistakes of Windows 8, Microsoft’s presentation last week made clear it’s about a lot more. It emphasised what it called the “mobility of experience”, so what you’re doing on one device can be automatically resumed on another, and the importance of natural interactions such as voice, using a pen, gestures and gaze.
It flagged up advances in its Cortana personal assistant, which is moving beyond Windows Phone into PCs and tablets. And it showed off some cutting edge augmented reality in the form of its HoloLens.
Then there was the Surface Hub, an 84 inch HD screen with integrated computing capacity and built-in everything to support brainstorming and meetings for groups in different locations. It can link up with Skype, take content from any connected device, and lets users scrawl their notes straight onto the screen for everyone to save.
I can see this prompting a lot of businesses to think seriously about moving to Windows 10 earlier than they might have done. It’s anchored in something that all still appreciate – the importance of sitting in a room and sharing ideas – while making it easier to share and update documents, images and ideas visually. It looks like taking them closer to sitting in a room together when they could be on different sides of the world.
I’ve been sceptical about any rush to adopt Windows 10 in the workplace, and still feel that most businesses will be cautious; but Surface Hub could do more than any other element to encourage early adopters. It offers a lot of potential while being rooted in a process with which most people are familiar, and won’t require too big a leap for them to begin using it.
Of course, the technology needs Windows 10 to work, and Microsoft has to rectify its mistakes with the interfaces of 8; but combined with the promise of free upgrades for users of Windows 7 and 8 it will provide an attractive lure for the early days of the campaign to sell the new operating system.