Of course, if you go out of your way to destroy desktop Windows in pursuit of tablet market share, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
NO executive management with the high-quality management training that is standard within MS would do anything at all like make statements to destroy the market share of their current market-leading product line! Isn't that called the Ratner Effect? The only thing even comparable would be for someone to fall prey to the Osborne Effect, and of course no one with a background in management at Microsoft would ever
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
However, remember that any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice.
Coincidence that this happens on the same day Ed Bott blogs about this exact issue with Win8.1? I don't think so
Was it pure failure,or today's sick fascination with 'mobile' that would lead a 'modern-replacement-for-X' project to have "multi-monitor issues"?
Neither. One of the things being glossed over or ignored by most of the discussion here is that Mir is working absolutely fine (including with multiple monitors). The issue causing them to "undefault" Mir is that XMir is not as complete and stable as they would like when apps that require X11 try to operate in multi-monitor mode (XMir is a compatibility layer between Mir and X).
In other words, the "weirdness sometimes experience in that area with classic X" in fact IS the problem, or at least the major contributing factor. Their compatibility layer isn't handling all the weirdness edge-cases.
So if you have a single monitor, or don't plan on using any X apps across monitors, feel free to install Mir/XMir and move on. It's being made optional, not going away.
I don't have a phone recommendation for you, but something to think about - does it actually need phone service? Or could you get by with a wifi-only device, with Groove or whatever for phone calls, etc.?
And if so, I think you could hit focalprice.com for a cheapo Android handset, put a custom mod on it, and rig it for remote access, so you could maintain it.
As to custom controls for kids, the only device I've heard of with controls that sound like they might meet your use case is the Kindle. Could you consider a Kindle tablet, with again, wifi VOIP for phoning? I'm not as clear on what the remote-control options would be for such, to allow you to maintain it for the kinder.