Personally I think the product is incredible in many ways, and overall very overwhelming/impressive relative to my expectations, however to me it has two very core faults:
1. Performance. Many actions are perfectly fine, however v things like videos can be choppy, and even reading a Kindle book is choppy.
2. DPI of the screen. It's a nice screen, and the responsiveness even beats the iPad (incredibly), though after using new high-res displays, the Surface screen looks pixelated (primarily when rendering text).
A friend with $500-600 comes to you and asks what tablet he should get. Can you recommend a surface over the latest iPad? We can't say "oh, give it time, the ecosystem will get better, hardware will improve" -- your friend needs something today. (That's why it's underwhelming to me. It isn't a good deal against its competitors.)
I don't think there's an obvious answer to which tablet provides more value - it's very context-specific.
In the same way, if someone wants a top of the line tablet, it just seems obvious it's an iPad. That's what almost anyone with a tablet is going to have. It's just going to fit the expectation of what a tablet is for a naive user. Surface doesn't. Just like Linux on a desktop may be better in your context-specific suggestion, but it isn't what a naive user thinks a computer is.
Unless the friend also wants to pay me regularly to teach or tech support their computing device, in which case I might go outside the expected zone, but I've yet to find this to be the case.