As a graduate student, I think Surface or any of the Windows a convertible/transformable options would be great for a student or a worker vs an ultrabook or laptop. I have tried both in the past year, and really think a truly convertible tablet is the way to go. The biggest problem with a laptop is that you can't take notes on it, even if you are the fastest typist out there. You run into the problem of drawing things like graphs. I think OneNote already is an excellent handwriting, note taking program. If you've never taken notes with such a program it is actually surprisingly great. Definitely a great way to keep notes organized, and already feels superior(for myself a least) to pen and paper, just because of the easy organization. Definitely makes coming home to work on papers or homework so much easier. The great thing about a convertible in this situation is I wouldn't have to have another device. And if I did indeed need to type something, or do well organized research, a true browser, with a good note taking program again, works best. So why bring an entirely new device when I can have a keyboard and tablet as one device. And I mean one that truly works. Not the poor keyboards that everything outside of the Transformers have to deal with for the most part. One complete with true mouse and touchpad support would be truly great as well. This is where I think a device like the Asus Taichi or Microsoft Surface Pro will succeed. Two portable devices is overkill if one does both well.
And that's why Windows 8 is why it is the way it is.
I honestly find the desktop mode on the Release Preview of 8 superior to Win7's desktop. It is just a more solid, sleek and feature filled desktop OS right now. If you are on a desktop computer, you simply don't have to deal with metro at all until you need start menu functions or you just want to play with an app for some reason. You can still pin programs to the taskbar or make desktop icons. If you have 2 or three monitor, the live tiles are actually cool on one of the monitors to keep up to date with stuff like Email or news, just like on WP7(love that OS). So complaining about metro on a desktop falls on deaf ears to me. Don't use it. Use the desktop.
As a touch OS I really like it, and I'm using an old Iconia. Really snappy and works great as a consumption device. At the same time, I can take notes and pull up actual programs. I could imagine this thing really kicking ass if it was a bit bigger and had a really nice keyboard/trackpad for those times I really need to type or access a database on the go. With a more powerful device that has a nice keyboard/trackpad, I would dump the laptop in a second. I think many will see the same once they really get o work with windows 8 in both environments.