Windows 10 is just over two weeks away and with it will come lots of new features and improved UX elements that should fix some of the issues that dogged the reputation of Windows 8. For some users though its the end of the road. Microsoft has killed Windows RT by denying it a version upgrade to Windows 10 and its likely that we'll see no more PCs running the ARM-friendly OS.
For Surface RT and Surface 2 users Microsoft has promised that they will see an upgrade to the OS which will bring some of Windows 10's features to their devices. The last time Microsoft made such a promise was when Windows Phone 7 users were thrown under a bus ahead of the Windows Phone 8 update. The result was the Windows 7.8 release which was a pitiful replacement for an upgrade path. I wonder how that particular incident affected long term Windows Phone sales, given it was the second time that Microsoft has pulled that trick on its phone customers.
Realistically Microsoft can't win by offering users weak upgrades that try to conjure the image of the new OS without delivering the substance.
Much better for Microsoft to institute some form of trade-in offer for Surface RT/2 owners to get them to update to the Surface 3. It would have to be a reasonably generous offer and that would obviously have some impact to Microsoft's bottom line. However the limited sales success of the ARM-based Surfaces would work in the companies favour for once and restrict the damage.
A program of refurbishing the returned machines and donating them to worthy causes - possibly in the developing world - would gain Microsoft some reputational brownie points too.
There's a cost involved certainly, but given that the cost of not doing it is seeing loyal customers buy iPad's, Androids or Macs, its a cost that Microsoft should certainly consider bearing.