The Surface tablet was a significant step for Microsoft, a meaningful shift to the company's business model, a genuinely innovative form factor, and at least in terms of hardware design, impressively well executed. But Surface is flawed....for my use it's just too large for a tablet and too small for a laptop.
Surface Pro makes a better case for itself than does Surface RT. With more horsepower via Intel, high speed connectivity, and additional SSD storage, it's a laptop without the lap. Accurate pen input via Wacom technology begins to add real value for creative professionals.
But for me, for now, I need a notebook. I need more processor than a dual core ULV, more storage than 128GB, and more screen real estate than 10.6". A powerful laptop in combination with a large external monitor has become a tried and true productivity solution.
While improving, the PC notebook market remains a miasma of needless differentiation, strange design choices, suspect quality, and the inconsistencies inherent in a separation between hardware and software manufacture. The promise of a Surface notebook....well designed, well made, and built to order directly from Microsoft, is incredibly appealing.
Microsoft has an opportunity here to make a better notebook, a cohesive product focused on an improved user experience. By focusing on clarity and quality (case quality, audio quality, display quality, keyboard and trackpad quality, and critically, support quality), and defining a commensurate price point, the Surface notebook could serve to motivate rather than alienate OEM manufacturers. After all, not everyone who wants a quality notebook wants a Macbook.
For my use, a 14" screen is the ideal balance between portability and size, but a range of sizes should be offered. The jury is still out regarding touchscreen notebooks, but any Surface product should be (and I have no doubt will be) a touch device. A responsive touchscreen and correspondingly stout hinges are essential.
As is improved connectivity and cable management....there is an opportunity here to finally (FINALLY) include a PC power brick with effective cable management. Taking the integrated USB charging port from the Surface tablet a step further, is there any reason that the brick itself could not include an integral USB/ Thunderbolt hub?
I don't expect to see a Surface notebook, not any time soon. But I believe the interest is there, and that with careful pricing Microsoft could balance direct sales with essential OEM relationships.
For my use, and I believe for many users, a notebook and a small tablet are the best solution at present....far better than a large tablet/ small notebook hybrid.
Why wouldn't Microsoft want in?