Re: Big supposition there...
"Apple are not an own producer. They are in effect the marketing arm of FOXCON, while apple design their goods someone else always produces them. This is a very common scene in many industries. I am unable to see any difference between MS or apple asking an OEM to produce a box and then selling it as their own"
I'd hardly call Apple the marketing arm of Foxcon. Apple are a pretty impressive company that produce all their own software on multiple platforms. I mean these days, Macs are actually Intel machines, but the software and design is what makes them different. But that's really beside the main point which is that there is a very great difference between "MS or apple asking an OEM to produce a box and then selling it as their own". Namely that Apple are the only ones that make their machines. There are many competing manufacturers producing Windows machines. The supposition of the analyst is that MS want to transition to an Apple model, but as another poster points out, it would be a very, very long process to move to a hardware monopoly even if it were possible. So really it looks more like this is just a shot across the bows from MS to get other manufacturers to up their game. It's a win-win for MS. If the Surface sells well, that shows Win8 in a good light and promotes themselves. If other manufacturers up their game and produce something better, that's a win for MS as well.
"I do wonder what all the fuss is about, slates have been out of use for years and these 'new' versions are a recycling of past ideas of form and function. (School slates of course had rounded corners on their wooden frames for safety reasons.)"
When it's time for steam engines, steam engines appear. I recall Neal Stephenson saying that though I think he may have nicked it from somewhere. Basically, sometimes you have to wait for the time to be right. Microsoft were producing tablets and hybrids for years before the iPad came out. They were good for some things, but the technology of the time made them big, heavy things with limited screen sensitivity and responsiveness. Apple timed things just right - they waited until the technology was there for something light and quick and then leveraged their success with phones into a scaled up tablet. It was steam engine time - the conditions for success were just right. You had the technology and wireless internet becoming pervasive and affordable. That's what all the fuss is about. You call it recycling of past ideas of form and function, but you might as well say a modern jet is a recycling of the Wright brother's work. Things like the Surface were not possible ten years ago and if they had been the wireless Internet wasn't everywhere or cheap enough... It's basically a tablet that you can also be productive on. I think it's going to sell great.
"So far as pricing goes, 'free' would probably be too much for me to pay for any of them and as for one with an apple on it, you could not even pay me to take it away."
Well I'm not an Apple user, but I suspect that's hyperbole. They're good machines as far as I can see. At any rate, you've clearly marked yourself as not the target market. Good for you. Rest of us are going to love having a ultrabook light device that we can both work on and sofa-surf on and take notes on with a stylus and have multi-user accounts on and connect standard interfaces to...