I wonder if they just needed to pause production to swap the name on the tablet?
One of the key questions is was it killed because Windows RT is not popular, but I’ve heard before that Microsoft is determined to do Windows on ARM and will bear out some slow adoption. That makes sense to me as well considering Surface 2 hasn’t had the same backlash as Surface RT. What they have struggled with is brand identity – having two different products running under the same brand (Surface) has proven confusing. With the Surface Pro 3, I believe Microsoft has clearly shown that Surface means high powered mobile computing that replaces a desktop experience. Obviously that’s not what Surface RT represents but if a tablet had a name associated with being light, portable and had great battery life, then it could marketed on those merits.
So ultimately, I think they had to change the assembly line and packaging to have a different name printed on the device. It could be “Lumia” or it might be a whole new name. So instead of differentiating the product by the word Pro, it will be completely different name. That will allow users who see that the Windows experience is more limited (no x86 support), to look past that because their focus is mobile-first.
That could also explain why Surface 3 has not appeared yet. It was delayed to coordinate the roll out of 8 inch and 10 inch ARM tablets under a new name. Yes then they’ll have to face iPad head on when its clear that these products are in the same space, but at least they won’t be sabotaging their ship with another product that can do more but also costs more money.
Releasing the Surface name to be just x86 also gives them more freedom as they could do Surface 3 (10″ i3) and have Surface Pro 3 be for bigger screen and more powerful chips.