The SurfaceRT will go the way of the Zune.
I really don't think you're correct this time, Joe. The Zune was a different animal because an Mp3 player wasn't Microsoft's core market. And not only did Apple have that market tied up, everyone eventually started moving away from dedicated music players like the iPod or Zune to listening to music on their phones. Yes, Apple still sells iPods, but not nearly the number of them that they once did. Most people, like me, listen to audio from their phones.
Apple's success with the iPad has scared the pants off Microsoft. In many ways, Windows 8 has been an overreaction to the situation, but Microsoft saw the writing on the wall in regard to the future, so they went all in. They are not really in a position to make big changes or corrections to their strategy. They can only keep moving forward and trying to improve what they have.
Nobody seems to like Windows 8 at first because it's such a radical change (nevertheless, I believe they should be given credit for not simply trying to copy Apple this time). But Windows 8 truly does make more sense on a tablet or touchscreen laptop. There will come a day, probably within a year or two, when you won't be able to buy a Windows-powered device that doesn't have a touchscreen. As I said, Microsoft is willing to play the long game here until they get both the software and the hardware right. And they have such a large installed base, especially in the business world, that they know there's not going to be a mass exodus in the personal computer space to the Mac or Linux or whatever else is out there.
Which brings us back to the Surface RT. The reason Microsoft won't abandon RT, even if it's not successful initially, has to do with the fact that they're now a hardware company, too. It's an interesting experiment on their part because they're acknowledging that Apple was on to something by creating a closed system of both hardware and software. At the same time, they can't afford to lose their partners, so they are walking a very tight rope between trying to promote their own products while not alienating the OEMs at the same time.
The Surface Pro is a full blown computer and competes with Windows-based ultrabooks and high end tablets. The Surface RT costs half as much and is designed to compete more with the iPad and similarly-priced Android tablets. If Microsoft gets rid of the Surface RT or Windows RT itself, they are completely ceding the $500 and under tablet field to Apple, Samsung, Amazon and the rest. There's no way they're going to do that.
Currently, the 7"-8" tablet space is the hot spot, but Windows RT won't run on a device that small. However, the "Blue" update coming later this year will. Here's what's going to happen: (1) Office 2013 will be re-designed to run strictly as a Modern UI app. Think of the iOS versions of Pages, Keynote and Numbers. They're capable, but not as powerful as their Mac counterparts. Microsoft's will probably try to keep the power in the Office apps, though, and make them way too bloated. They will probably keep a "traditional" version of Office around for businesses, but charge more for it. (2) Because the modified Office will no longer need the desktop, it (the desktop) will go away on RT devices, thus removing the schizophrenic feel to the current Windows RT tablets. And then, (3) before the end of the year, we will see 7"-8" Windows RT tablets that will also be pure Modern UI devices. (4) Microsoft will partner with (i.e. pay) big companies like Adobe to make "professional" apps to run in the Modern UI. (5) Within three to five years, the Windows desktop and all "legacy" Windows programs will be gone. If a program hasn't been updated to run in the Modern UI, it will be orphaned to run in an earlier version of Windows on older hardware.
And Microsoft will keep at this until they get things right (or at least much more usable) and people have had time to get used to the new interface.