That's how I also see it... MS has always had a "vision" with Windows but up until now there was no way to complete that vision when OEMs are all in a race to the bottom and one tries to be as boring as the other with low-quality hardware loaded with crapware.
MS showing them how it's done is one way to get the whole thing back on track. Now the OEMs can either continue cranking out their low-quality products or go back to the drawing board and come back with something that is as good or better than Surface.
My feeling is that MS isn't doing anything that any other OEM can't also do. The OEMs just need some "motivation".
Not to get too off-topic, but unfortunately I think MS made two mistakes with Surface...
1. They should have included pen input in RT as well. If it isn't pervasive across all versions then it will never become mainstream, and it is one sure way to differentiate with iPads. There is a reason there is an aftermarket for those fat-tipped things that passes as a "stylus" for the iPad. It could have opened a whole new category of apps that could not have been matched by the iPad. Oh well...
2. The only thing the screen aspect ratio is good for is watching movies. Nothing else. It makes portrait mode "awkward" to say the least, and in landscape it's pretty bad because of the small screen you will always need to zoom into documents (doesn't matter the resolution) meaning it won't cover much vertical area on the document. This includes web pages that are mostly formatted to scroll vertically.
Now I plan to get the Pro but still, even point #1 will affect me because now we are back to the same issue of there not being critical mass for devs to create those apps that can take full advantage of pen input. And I'm talking about all sorts of drawing apps/games, less handwriting recognition. There was a game for Tablet PC a long time ago called Crayon Physics, which had nothing to do with handwriting recognition, but was a load of fun. Those are the kinds of things that could have been a big differentiator.
So that actually brings up these questions: Can OEMs create other aspect ratios, or are they stuck with the widescreen format? Also, can OEMs put pen support on RT hardware, or is that strictly only supported by the Windows 8 Pro version?