I am very, very impressed with Microsoft Surface. I haven't touched it and I don't know all the specifics, but after watching the videos on the site and reading some other reports, I'm excited about what this means. Now, is it going to be affordable? Heck no. Is it going to work as well as we all hope it does? Doubtful. But Microsoft has done something extremely cool and at the same time enhanced the notion of experience in a huge way. I think this is very significant for RIAs.
Part of the big value adds behind any kind of Rich Internet Application is the experience. You'll always hear things about how flashy graphics and bells get in the way, and in some cases that's true, but when those extra bells and whistles come together to create a truly unique, compelling and usable experience, it makes a world of difference. Just reading some of the commentary on Surfacing shows how captivated people are by great experiences and great interfaces. We should be able to tap into that excitement through software and Surface is helping us think outside the box.
From what Robert Scoble says, this interface was built using Windows Presentation Foundation, which isn't surprising. WPF was created for these kinds of experiences. We get some of this in Vista, but it really shines in Surface. I think the excitement around devices like Surface show how much potential there is for better software across numerous platforms. In this case it isn't about breaking out of the browser, it's about breaking out of the computing world as we know it and creating rich experiences.