Microsoft could probably ship such a table for $5,000 or $6,000 each — well beyond the reach of the average consumer. But even at a price many times higher than a low-cost PC, the existence of the product would enhance the Microsoft brand.
Just as companies like Toyota and Mercedes make incredibly expensive, awesome cars that create a halo effect around their more affordable operations, Microsoft could become associated with an awesome vision of the future that everyone would want to be a part of.
Microsoft's integrated vision of the future would make Microsoft an aspirational brand in the consumer electronics space. Look how much mileage Apple gets out of being an aspirational brand. How many teenagers buy an iPod touch because when they go wide-eyed into the Apple Store and gape at those iMacs and Retina iPads and MacBooks they know that's the direction they want to go in, and they know Apple is the company they want to be associated with?
Apple's "image" creates loyal customers before those customers even buy their first gadget.
A minority of deep-pocket consumers would buy Microsoft's magic table. Pundits would obsess over them. Jimmy Fallon would gush about it on TV. Everybody would be talking about Microsoft's table instead of Google's Glasses or Apple's non-existent wristwatch.
Moore's Law would have its way with the table. The price to produce would probably drop by $500 a year, even as Microsoft continued to improve the product.
The problem with Microsoft in the consumer space is not that the company lacks the technology. Microsoft has some of the best technology in the industry. What it lacks is the will to ship that technology to consumers and provide people with a compelling, breathtaking and wonderful vision of the future.
Microsoft: Just ship what you've got. Make the desktop computer an actual desktop before Apple and Google do and you'll own the future.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.