Last Updated on April 5, 2023 by GrahamWalsh
In this blog post, I will cover all the news that I have discovered remotely for Enterprise Connect 2023 whilst not being there in person. Sources are from vendor blog posts, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Obviously, I must start with Neat! Neat was showing off the forthcoming Neat Pulse management platform. Full details can be found here. This is due to be released in Q2 2023.
Also, Neat had two big reveals with Microsoft, all focused on Neat Frame. First up is Hot Desking sign-in with just a QR code. This is a new development from Microsoft and is due to be released in later in 2023. See below for a video overview.
Finally, Neat was the only OEM showing off the new Virtual Front Desk (VFD) from Microsoft. It uses the same Teams Shared Device License as the hot desking device above, but it can basically speed dial someone. See a video demonstration below if you missed it. Matt Landis also did a good write up here on how it could be used with Landis Attendant Console. Virtual Front Desk should be available later in 2023.
Cisco are now certified on their Cisco Board Pro 55″ and 75″ devices with MTR-A Update 3 software (not the newest Update 1 that was just released). The devices are available now, and remember it is only the Pro devices and not earlier generations. They are running Android 11 as their AOSP build. What’s unique with the Cisco Board (and other forthcoming devices) is that if you have the appropriate Cisco Control Hub and Webex licenses, you can join a Webex call natively rather than via Direct Guest Join (DGJ). If you don’t have the licenses, then it will default to DGJ.
Also note, there is no centre of room controller certified for the Cisco Board Pro. That might come once the Room Kits are certified? This is planned for certification next, so I would expect this in the next mid to late 2023.
The MSRP of the Cisco Board Pro 55″ is $28,270.95 according to here. The Floor Stand is an additional $5,269.22. And the wheels are $2,150.70.
However, the Cisco shop has it retailing for $13,995, but it is out of stock. A bit more research and Insight have some in stock at $12,997.99 and the Floor Stand is an additional $2,691.99 and it out of stock. Plus the wheels at $1,099.99, but also out of stock.
The 75″ version is $47,197.11 MSRP and a street price of $23,640.99. but that is also out of stock. The Floor Stand has a MSRP of $7,419.92 with a street price of $3,790.99 and it’s out of stock at present.
Also, note there is no Teams Panel certified yet from CIsco. That will follow later this year.
Let’s compare a Cisco Board Pro 55″ with floor stand plus wheels at $16,789.97 versus a Neat Board with floor stand that includes a shelf and wheels at $7,7000 and the option to add a Neat Pad as the Board’s controller for $860. Yealink Meeting Board 65 including stand is $5,098.00 on the Microsoft Teams Devices store.
Cisco also showcased some AI Noise Cancelling and also AI Video Boundary features, where it can be set manually or by using AI where it picks up where the table is for example. Wonder where they got the idea of a video boundary from? Neat Boundary anyone?
Crestron UC-P8/P10 devices as Teams Displays also previewed the new Hot Desking QR code sign in, so it will be across the range for all Teams Displays devices.
Crestron were also the first partner to announce a new BYOD solution, based off their AirMedia AM3100-WF device. Full press release here. From what I understand, it is essentially running the Microsoft Teams Panel software on the unit, so that will need the Teams Shared Device License at $8 per month. This will also provide visibility to the Teams Room Pro Portal for status/online etc. Then once a user takes the driverless USB-C dongle and plugs it into their laptop, then they will project a 2nd screen off their laptop and just show the video element of Teams. All chat and other desktop remains on the users laptop.
The dongle will be available next month, then the software will be available in Q2 2023 that will allow wireless conferencing. There will then be a bundle available in Q4 2023. The adapter alone is $480, with the AirMedia 3100-WF is $990, so together $1,470 for this BYOD solution. However, according to the press release there will be a bundled offer of around $1,000. Also remember you’ll need to add your USB Soundbar if you don’t already have one, such as the Jabra PanaCast 50, that’s another $1,277.99.
That is nearly $2,500 for a BYOD room, where you have 2 different suppliers, many cables and power supplies, two different management portals. For a little more, you can have a Neat Bar for $3,790 with full functionality of a Microsoft Teams Room, plus BYOD mode included.
DTEN were showing off their Microsoft Teams devices, namely their All-in-One large display D7X which is an MTR-A device and their DTEN Me 27″ device which is a Teams Display. Note that none of these devices are certified yet, a little odd they were showing them off so early, as they will not be available until around Q3 2023.
EPOS announced their new IMPACT 1000 headset, which includes BrainAdapt to reduce brain fatigue during calls. No idea how it can do this.
Jabra were showing off their forthcoming PanaCast 50 Video Bar System, which will be based on the new Microsoft Android OS. They also launched an updated range of headsets, namely the Evolve2 50, 55 and 65 Flex. The new 65 Flex are foldable and come in a nice soft case. Also announced was a range of SPEAK2 speaker pucks for personal conferencing. Full details here.
There was no booth from Logitech at Enterprise Connect, but they did announce some quite funky Zone Vibe Wireless headphones at $129 available soon.
Microsoft Surface Hub 2S
Microsoft has decided to retire the Windows 10 Team Edition OS that the Hub was running. Full post here.
It will no longer be able to use any of the Apps that were on the Hub, gone will be the sign in to get your documents from OneDrive. No more Edge browser, bye-bye Miracast. What it will become is the first, all in one touch screen Microsoft Teams Rooms on Windows. This means that when the MTR-W systems get an update, so will the Surface Hub 2S. This brings the device in line with features and functionality and new layouts such as Front Row etc. In addition, it will be in the Teams Admin Center and Pro Portal as well.
Customers will not have to move over straight away; the current platform will be supported until October 2025. What isn’t clear is whether the devices will need a cartridge/cassette upgrade. Maybe it will be like Windows 11 for MTR-W devices, only certain devices will make the cut. However, someone has confirmed over on the Microsoft Tech Community that it will not require a hardware update.
Note that this update will not be for the 1st generation Surface Hubs, only generation 2, current devices.
Surface Hub 2s 50″ retails today for $9,850.99 excluding the stand. This is an additional $2,231.99, so total price of $12,082.98, so just slight cheaper than the Cisco Board Pro 55″.
Microsoft Android OS
Currently with the MTR-A OEMs, they all build their Google AOSP platform and then the Teams application sits on top. What Microsoft has decided to do is provide the base layer for the OEMs. This is great news for their launch partner Jabra, which means they don’t to develop their image of AOSP. They can take the Microsoft one off the shelf.
This new MIcrosoft Android OS flavour is designed for the Qualcomm chipset. What is interesting, is that I understand Cisco use the Nvidia chipset, so I wonder if Cisco could ever use this platform as they have their Android in a container.
This is built with the advantage of the Qualcomm QCS8250 IoT chipset supporting multiple concurrent instances of VPU-based hardware offload video encoding and decoding.
The one thing that stands out for me in the article is this piece
Management capabilities are enhanced with native support for Intune’s latest Android (AOSP) management solution, Teams Admin Center, and the new Microsoft management watchdog service all of which ensure that devices are always responsive and ready to use.
This only talks about management capabilities. One of the biggest barriers to entry for MTR-A solutions is not knowing how to get the devices past the enrolment stage with Intune as most organisations think Android is a mobile/cell phone and apply the same policies which mean the devices are never compliant. If this new OS bypasses all these issues, then it’s a great path for the future for OEMs.
Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Plan 2
Microsoft will include this license for MTR Pro customers. However, this is only applicable for MTR-W customers today, with MTR-A to follow. It will be included with the Pro license by the end of Q2 2023 and applied to existing customers. Then in the 2nd half of 2023, the data will be added to the Pro Portal. Still not sure why Defender is needed, the devices are already hardened and secured, whether Windows or Android.
Microsoft Teams App Updates
MTR-W users got the 220.127.116.11 and MTR-A customers got the Update 1 app (depending on OEMs). For a video overview of the MTR-W features, see this video from fellow MVP, Randy Chapman. See below for the MTR-A updates.
Poly announced their G7500 and their X70 are now certified for Microsoft Teams. This also brings Poly OS 4.0, meaning their x30/x50/x70 and G7500 devices are now running Android 10. However, the TC8 controller is still on Android 9.0 at present, which means the certification ends August 5th 2023, so I’m sure that’s next to get an update.
Poly also announced GA of their new Voyager Free 60 earbuds. This is new concept of where charging case has a touchscreen on the front with the 60+ version. They’ve also copied Jabra and placed the USB dongle in the carry case, an absolute must nowadays. There’s also a clever feature on the Free 60+ model along with the touchscreen case, there is a 3.5mm jack so you can connect the case to your airplane seat, meaning the case acts as Bluetooth receiver.
The Yealink DeskVision A24 is finally certified as a Teams Display device. The A24 includes a motorised camera, wireless charger and can be used as a second screen. Yealink also announced the BH71 Mono headset, a design seen many years ago, looks like the Plantronics Voyager from years ago!!
Yealink also announced a new range of audio AI improvements for their meeting room systems, namely the A20/A30 with new beamforming for video bars for better audio pickup. In addition to this, some new Video AI technologies such as real time auto framing, presenter tracking, gesture recognition, multi-focus and multi-stream (where have we seen this already!!), voice and face recognition and finally, audio fence and video fence (Neat Boundary clone?). Not sure when we’ll see all these new features.
I’ve also seen on the Microsoft Teams certified devices list, that there is a Yealink Room Panel Plus. No idea what this is. Maybe it’s the 10″ version, I am sure I saw this launch at ISE 2023 in February.
That’s a wrap for the news at Enterprise Connect. Lots of announcements, proof is in the pudding to seeing all the features delivered in a timely manner.
Also published on Medium.