While Microsoft still after the presentation have everyone guessing about pricing, release dates as well as some of the specs, most people who were there appear to think that the device itself, its design and UI is definitely up to par.
While pricing and availability are critical to user uptake and commercial success, the fact that Microsoft appear to even have designed a tablet (or any product) that could be able to compete on its own merit with Apple appear to stun most observers.
If the Surface is priced right and delivered around Windows8 launch this can only be good for consumers. Finally, choice and competition! It will also contribute to keep Apple on its toes when Steve Jobs is not around to do it.
While Apple is a worthy opponent for Microsoft, target number one must be Google and Android. As I have said before, to become a success within smartphones, Microsoft does not have to compete with or overtake Apple. It is enough to overtake and kill off some of the less able Android OEMs. The same goes for tablets.
Google, Android OEMs and Amazon are the group that should be worrying.
My prediction is that if (and that is still a big if) Microsoft is able to gain a traction in the tablet and smartphone space, we are going to see a really fast pivot at Google to drastically increase the integration of Motorola into their Android shop. That does not automatically mean that the OEMs are toast but they may be very limited in their OS fragmentation ability and hence differentiation.
If the UI and HW measures up, it all comes down to price. It MUST be priced right from the start!