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Microsoft Scales Back on Giant Booths, Opting for Subtle Approach at AV Industry Shows

ISE 2016 attendees did experience Microsoft Surface Hub but they did so in other companies’ booth as the IT giant relies on its strategic partners. Microsoft will not have its own booth at InfoComm 2016.

You won’t see a Microsoft booth at most of the big industry shows this year—you didn’t see one at Integrated Systems Euriope 2016, for instance—but that doesn’t mean the IT giant has given up on the integration space.

Instead, company officials are letting their integrator partners show off products such as Surface Hub in their own booths as customers await a release date.

That plan was in place at ISE 2016, where Surface Hub launch partner AVI-SPL was the only integrator demoing the Surface Hub for more than the record-breaking crowd of more than 65,000 registrants.

“Recently, we have encouraged our strategic partners to showcase Surface Hub along with their value added services at important industry shows like InfoComm Connections and ISE 2016,” says a Microsoft spokesman. “For InfoComm 2016, we will similarly support our partners who plan to exhibit at the event to highlight the impact this new category of device will have on business transformation.”

InfoComm 2016 attendees won’t see a giant Microsoft-only booth at this year’s show in June.

That means InfoComm 2016 attendees won’t see a giant Microsoft-only booth at this year’s show in June. They also won’t have a booth that’s primarily for charging their phones and watching sports, though. (NOTE TO SELF: You’ve now got your first appointment of InfoComm 2016 open after making a beeline to Microsoft’s booth before the rush the past two years).

Microsoft announced in December it would begin shipping Surface Hub in the first quarter of 2016, noting the 55-inch Surface Hub would sell for $8,999 and the 84-inch unit would cost $21,999. The original prices were $6,999 for the 55-inch version and $19,999 for the 84-inch size.

AVI-SPL was one of four booths at ISE 2016 with the Surface Hub and the only integrator showing it. Officials in the booth said they have clients patiently awaiting Surface Hub’s release and planning to add it to their boardrooms.

Kelly Bousman, senior VP of marketing for AVI-SPL, says they had “tons of people just come up and start playing with it, instead of waiting for the demo, which is cool because that shows AVI-SPL what they’re most interested in.” So far, “touch has been the biggest thing,” says Bousman. “People want to see how responsive it is.”

Microsoft officials say they are “encouraged about the opportunity our customers and partners see for Surface Hub” at ISE and other industry events. “Customers have told us and our partners that they are excited about the innovative new technology and the potential they see for how it will transform the way they work across a variety of industries.”

AVI-SPL continues to seek client feedback on the Surface Hub, what end users like and don’t like as they await a full-scale rollout.

Here’s a roundup of some of the other reaction to Surface Hub at ISE 2016:

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