I guess Microsoft has decided that it wants to be IBM.
In one fell swoop they just conceded the tablet market, the e-reader market, the education market, and the professional business organizer market. I will be glad when Microsoft is lead by someone that has vision enough to create the future and not just follow it when it's financially convenient. All the while Online Services eats up more and more of the company in the chase for "three screens and a cloud" while competition plans, creates, and executes circles around them.
Microsoft doesn't get it, and HP is showing that they do. The future is the computing appliance, not a jack of all trades system. We don't expect our refrigerators to microwave our food and in the future we won't expect our computing experience to revolve around a PC. Instead we will continue to evolve to points where we use specialized computing devices designed to handle tasks at hand. This is where the market is, not the "cloud." We have come to a point in computing where all the manufacturers are the same, most are just branding companies that assemble a parts list of common components and a shiny case. There isn’t any innovation and there isn't any model that can continually succeed in that environment. The only way these companies can innovate further is to control the software completely. As such, Microsoft will find itself pushed further and further away as companies strive to increase profits in a commoditized market and cut out the software middle man. This is where HP gets it with the purchase of Palm and the change of plans for the slate.
In the meantime, the one computer manufacturer that does distinguish itself using commoditized hardware today is Apple. You better believe that Dell and HP are watching their success and wondering how they can emulate it. Apple has with OSX cut out the middleman and built a platform that allows them to distinguish themselves and control their own destiny.