Ok, just a thought here. Maybe thinking outside of the box is what is needed.
Let's just take consumer pricing, wouldn't it behoove Microsoft to include a recovery USB Key. A 16gb memory stick is about 15 dollars now. With volume pricing it would be even less than that.
Originally OEM's included a recovery disc, wouldn't it be progressive and cost effective for Microsoft to do the same thing with modern tech.
As is, I couldn't even think about purchasing a 64gb Surface with that much storage restriction. Especially with the known issues with integrating a microsd card as part of the storage. (Bring on the Windows Home Server Storage Pool, thank you very much.)
Modern day laptops generally still have CD drives. Despite that, the vast majority of them don't ship you recovery media on CD, they put it on the device in a separate partition. That CD is going to cost a LOT less than a USB stick. They still don't give you recovery media. There must be a reason for that, and it makes no sense to think it has to do with the cost of the media. I can think of several reasons why it might be, but I won't claim I know why. I do know that for many consumers putting the recovery media on the device is best possible choice. For most of the rest of us, it shouldn't be an issue because we're tech savvy enough to create that USB stick ourselves and wipe out the recovery partition. So, for the most part, these arguments are pointless. I guarantee there's not a single person on this thread complaining about this that would have any problems at all creating their own recovery media and removing the partition. It's just fun to knock on Microsoft, really.