This all smells like a last-resort move by Microsoft. The only reason for burning their Ultrabook hardware partners that badly is because there's no other way to fight the MacBook Air. That's right. The Surface is up against the MBA as well as the iPad. The keyboard-case is a dead giveaway that Microsoft has given up on the whole Ultrabook concept.
The Ultrabook Initiative has had precious little success even against last year's MacBook Airs at their old price points. And Apple has just announced upgraded MacBook Air models across the board, with $100 price drops on three of the four models. (And you'd better believe that Apple is maintaining their hardware margins even with the lower price points.)
Maybe Intel should ask for a refund on their $300 million Ultrabook Initiative seed money. Because the Dells and Asus' of the world haven't held up their end of the bargain. Intel could use that money to kick start a Perimeter Venting Fan Initiative or something.
and you add the other data point.... Too many masters... Intel on top of Microsoft, and the boards of 10 odd corporations who must balance ability to compete in a market vs make money for investors...
Which if you have 30 ultrabooks based on WinTel... you end up with a 'race to the bottom.' with a Intel Tax and a Microsoft tax of $100+ per device, where as Apple has $80+ of that on OS savings plus another $100 in savings on components... Apple's making at least $200 purely on efficiencies of controlling the value change (see today's asymco.com). and they have better patents (their OS biz model is not designed to be shared, like Android or Windows). Not only does Apple get a head start (defining the market), but they get better gas mileage (efficiencies in the model), and they don't have to share the better parts of their car with others, and can have the cops pull over anyone they think 'copied' a part they invented.
Heaven help the TV market;-)