While the Surface Hub is a great group device – it’s not specifically designed for individuals to access their content as easily as they would from their own computer.
This poses somewhat of a challenge as the intent of the Surface Hub is for people to stand near and work with the device, not stay seated at their computers.
Pre-installed on the Surface Hub are both the Office apps (eg. the “mobile” touch-friendly versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint) as well as OneDrive for Business.
All of the apps allow users to sign in which then provides access to their recently accessed content. However, what I’ve found is that the sign-in experience does not appear to be consistent between them.
As you can see from the Sway below I was able to sign in to some apps while others still required me to log in. In some instances, there was a delay between it realising that I was already signed in and then bringing up the history in the second app, whereas in other instances it simply required me to sign in again.
When signing in to the Office apps or OneDrive for Business app the user is prompted to add the account to Windows or skip the step. This is core Windows 10 functionality that is designed to simplify the sign-in experience for other Azure Active Directory / Office 365 aware applications. In my tests, I tried both options – signing in as well as skipping the step. As the Surface Hub allows you to scrub the session when you press “I’m done” I could test out both scenarios without any interference.
In both scenarios, the experience was a mixed bag which means that the average user might potentially get frustrated with either having to wait for their file history to appear in the app, or worse still having to sign in again. This can potentially lead to a negative experience which may impact their desire to use the Surface Hub in the future – therefore it is important to call this out as part of end user training as a “quirk” to be aware of. The hope is that in future updates of either the Windows 10 Team version that runs on Surface Hub (ie. the soon-to-be-released Anniversary Update) or the Office apps themselves the experience will be improved.
Using touch with Office 365 is nothing new – we could do that on our Surface (and other touchscreen) devices for quite some time.
But nothing compares to doing that on a life-size screen like on the Surface Hub. Yesterday I wrote about my first experiences with the Surface Hub now that it had been installed in our office, so it was time to start coming up with practical applications in the Office 365 world.
Microsoft has been working hard over the years to make the entire Office suite touch-enabled to suit all form factors of devices, and all modalities of working. While I’ve enjoyed this on a Surface Pro 1 through to my current Pro 3, as well as Windows 10 Mobile, Android tablet and iPad – I wanted to see what this would be like on the Surface Hub.
The below Sway presentation shows our experiment – starting from a 1:1 session to a group call, and going through a number of different applications.
We chose to focus on the applications that were most visually appealing: