So, back to Surface (RT). Hated by many because it doesn't run desktop applications. It does run Windows 8, hated by many because of the tablet-centric start screen. What do people not hate? Surface Pro, because it allows people to spend 2x as the price of the iPad to run desktop applications on a machine built for touch UI. WTF.
When it was released, the Surface RT was an excellent value compared to...nothing. It was priced the same as the iPad 4, which had a much faster processor, and much beefier graphics hardware, and a much better screen. The RT actually required you to purchase a separate Touch Cover (~$100) to give you anything special over the iPad 4.
Unless you were dying for Office on a tablet, the RT had nothing special going for it. And let me stress that the Microsoft Office experience on a tablet was less than ideal - check out the reviews and you will find they had to abandon the touch screen to do things as simple as changing the size of a column in Excel. Where is the value of a touch-optimized version of
You also couldn't connect the device to a domain, and it didn't (at the time) come with Outlook. It really was a machine with a mixed message, and this was COMPLETELY IGNORING the mess that was the OS.
The other day, an article about Windows (RT) being useless because Haswell is good enough to run "proper" Windows x86 rather than having to rework everything to work on ARM. So where we're getting is to a state of affairs where x86 improves its efficiency so much faster than ARM that it is conceivable that machines of every size, shape and price can run x86 Windows (or Linux). Just my opinion: I find that hard to believe.
The only size where people care about x86 Windows compatibility is the 8-9" and up size class. At that size point, you can include a semi-usable keyboard and touchpad. Without these hardware accompaniments, running older x86 apps is a mess (both thanks to desktop scaling issues and difficulty emulating input devices seamlessly). Intel is more than capable of offering a high-performance, low-power product in the large tablet category.
The problem Microsoft has with the Surface is that it's right within the optimal device size class to handle x86 applications well (because the Touch and Type Covers define a minimum screen size for productivity), but x86 compatibility is not offered at all. This is a negative selling point for a device with "Windows" on it. This is why most pundits were suggesting Microsoft drop the 10" RT model down to 8" (where it's more of a consumption device), and offer the 10" model with an Atom. This didn't happen, so Microsoft is getting thoroughly beaten-down by the press.