Over three hours to get the Surface connected to wifi, set up an account and set up the email? Sounds like a user issue, not a product issue.
The Surface (which runs Windows RT, not Windows, and this is made pretty clear anywhere you look) is pretty well documented to only be able to run programs from the Windows App Store (or whatever the hell it's called). This should not have been a surprise if even the SMALLEST amount of research had been done before purchasing it. Complaining that it can't do Airplay, use iMessage or use Facetime is the equivalent of buying an Android tablet, and then getting upset that it can't play Infinity Blade, or buying a Playstation and then complaining that you can't play Mario on it.
Learn what your several-hundred-dollar device can actually do before buying it. Just as an example: the VERY FIRST LINE in the "Product Features" section of this BestBuy page for the original Surface says:
Windows RT OS: Works exclusively with apps that can be downloaded from the Windows Store, which features an ever-growing list of apps and games
(emphasis mine). How much clearer, exactly, should Microsoft be making this?
As to the original article - I'm not a huge face of the Surface (or Surface Pro in this case) as a device for my particular usage scenario, but it seems to have found a niche that works well for some folks. Gabe at Penny Arcade absolutely loves using his Surface Pro (actually, I think Microsoft gave him a Surface Pro 2 after he evangelized the first one so hard) for his art (and gaming, too, actually). Is it a perfect device? No way. Are there better options out there, for general use? I think so. But it seems to have hit a sweet spot for some people.