"The real question is, 'What is the point of a two-in-one device or touchscreen PC?'" said Singh. "Legacy applications are not touch optimized, so using them on a Surface Pro, even with a Touch/Type Cover, is a sub-optimal experience compared to a traditional laptop."
And while the app count in the Windows Store -- the sole source of Windows 8 and Windows RT tile-style software -- has climbed dramatically, Microsoft is still working with a handicap.
"Windows 8 doesn't really offer a vibrant app ecosystem, at least for now, that takes advantage of touchscreen capabilities," argued Singh. "So the touchscreen is basically an additional expense with little to no practical use for x86-based devices."
That means that the Surface Pro must succeed as an ultrabook first and foremost, agreed analysts. "If the Surface doesn't sell as a PC that can manifest itself as a tablet, then it's nowhere," said Gottheil.
In fact, few experts give the Surface Pro much of a chance of selling in any appreciable number. By extension, that means there's little chance for Microsoft to break out of the flagging PC business to a wider product constituency of tablets, or to create a viable two-in-one category.
"At the end of the day, Microsoft's problems with the Surface and Windows 8 have been caused by a flawed mobile strategy," asserted Singh. "Microsoft sees the tablet as an extension of the PC, but doesn't seem to understand the fact that the gap between touch-optimized and non-touch-optimized applications renders that logic invalid. Microsoft is attempting to position the Surface Pro as a laptop/PC replacement but unfortunately, replacing a PC doesn't seem to be necessity anymore."
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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