The sad thing is, the Surface RT (and Windows RT generally) would have had a chance if MS has just not crippled the thing with insane lockdowns. It had the full Win32 and .NET 4.x APIs, used standard driver models so you could easily add support for devices that used its full-size USB port, and supported a bunch of features found in no other mainstream ARM tablet (full file system access, built-in script engines, multi-user capability, Windows networking, placing any windows you wanted to side-by-side, booting off removable media, browser with developer tools, etc.). It had compelling hardware, aside from the lowish screen resolution (and it's not *that* low, the MacBook Air has the same resolution, but cost a hell of a lot more).
It was trivially easy to port many Win32 programs to it; if they would compile in Visual Studio 2012, you could compile them for RT. .NET programs didn't even need re-compiling. Drivers built using the modern driver kits were as easy to port as Win32 programs; some open-source drivers were successfully ported, and Pluggable even managed to get theirs USB Ethernet dongle's driver signed by MS before MS backpedaled on that. The bitch was getting past the stupid signature checks (most people were even less lucky than Pluggable). You could compile (where needed), and you could copy the programs to the tablet. You could even tell it to run them as Admin. But, without a jailbreak or a Microsoft signature (not just any Authenticode signature, it had to be from specific Microsoft keys), it wouldn't run.
That doomed the whole RT ecosystem. The app store's offerings were neither plentiful enough nor desirable enough to make the tablet worth its price (which was good for an 8-hour-battery laptop, but high for an ARM tablet). The initial jailbreak brought a surge of interest in porting open-source programs, and even led to the development of an x86-to-ARM dynamic recompilation (like emulation, but faster) layer that allowed running unmodified Win32 programs, including some old games. For months, MS didn't bother people who were finally getting to use their tablets as actually computers... and then 8.1 came out, and they blocked the jailbreak four different ways. There's a new jailbreak out now, but people just don't care much anymore. I don't know what idiot at MS thought that making RT even less useful was going to increase sales, but they traded in their .22 pocket footgun for a .50 fully automatic footrifle, and people just stopped bothering with it.