Tablet computing is a hard nut to crack and that is just one computing catagory among many others.
I remember when Win XP Media Center Edition came out, I was expecting to see sleek cool entertainment units to slip under my TV. No dice. The best i saw was an HP tower... even though msoft advised all its partners to build the equivalent of stereo equipment, HP stuck their head up the you know where.
With Windows 8, microsoft is not simply suggesting a reference design, but they are making it available for purchase to show OEMs that this is the bar and you have to either meet the bar they set or rethink if they are a high quality OEM partner or just a china inc knockoff company.
The Surface Tablet Computers are brilliant and contain quite a bit of small but important innovations, that said, microsoft leaves a lot of room for improvement. They have simply produced a reference design that OEMs should try to meet or exceed, not drop below.
The ARM based tablet has a HD screen (720p) and a single usb 2.0 port, Micro SD and 32 gb and 64 gb flavours. That is something that should definately be improved by others... 128 gb options 1080p screens, multiple usb 3.0 ports full sized SD in an ARM based package.
Microsoft isn't competing with their OEMs they are trying to light a fire under them to get them going.
That new 5pin magsafe like power and data connector; has Dell considered licenscing that from Msoft to create a ecosystem of intercompatible accessories?
The Dell Inspiron Duo, omfg!!! That pile of rubbish was a netbook with a transforming screen. Seriously Dell?
Give me a core i3 ivybride/ amd trinity machine with an SSD, edge to edge 7-10" 600/1080p glass screen and no keyboard and then we'll talk.
The Surface shows exactly how a tablet can have a functional keyboard and the asus transformer tablets as well, to a lesser extent.
I think is is important that Dell see the surface as a learning opportunity. Microsoft knows the scenarios that Windows 8 is desigined for and they have a general idea of what form factors will work best with it. Dell needs to try new ideas in a big way and not just use the same old rubbish like HP did with XP MCE.
Dont just design new form factors, but give it the performance to be useful. Don't repeat the inspiron duo!!!!
Focus on the little things, the design doesn't need to have a tonne of features, but the features it does have need to be high quality. Look at how much they focused on the Hinge of the kickstand on the Surface. The use of the touch keyboard cover, the ability ot rest you hand on the keyboard while not typing. Its the little ling that add up to make a huge difference.
The Inspiron duo, when you were using it as a laptop, the space between the screen and the bezle where you could see straight thru... so terrible.
The giant bezle around the hinge and the one around the screen, did no one see that being a incredible untasteful design element?
There are so many ways to make a product, but to make a great product you need to take the time and effort to do every piece right.
I am awaiting your first XPS and Inspiron tablets.
I hope they can match the quality that i have seen with your XPS and Inspiron all in one machines that have recently come out.