I'm as disappointed as any of you about this state of affairs, but I don't know why you're all surprised. Several years ago, Steinberg-Yamaha decided that Nuendo would be their upscale post-production suite product and despite any intimations to the contrary, they have continued on this plan. The introduction of Nuage was pretty much the death bell on any hope of keeping this software agnostic from any specific hardware. Nuendo is being optimized for Yamaha hardware and as the owners of the company, they can pretty much decide what they want their products to do.
Yamaha is a HARDWARE company; it's in their DNA and in fact every attempt they've made to enter the software field has been a pretty lame failure (mLan, DS2416...). They now have the opportunity to leverage a software acquisition to push their hardware expansion plans. Because this doesn't work with our needs, we're all up in arms, but is it really unexpected?
I see the NEK as an olive branch extended to those of us who need Nuendo's advanced features over Cubase, but with the Nuage optimizations, hardware-agnostic workflow has been impaired. So now we're at a crossroads where the NEK is no longer sufficient to "pacify" us and where there really should be another fork in the Nuendo story, one where optimizations would be made for non-Nuage users.
But think about that for a minute: facing incredible odds from a very well-entrenched competing platform, how likely is it that a hardware company is going to sabotage their chances of launching a complete post-production hardware/software suite by offering a software-only alternative that works as well without the hardware? Slim to none if you ask me.
The other real problem now is that Steinberg spent considerable time unifying Cubase and Nuendo development to the point that Cubase is now inheriting the hardware-dependent workflow problems evident in Nuendo. However Cubase does not have a hardware interface alternative (yet?), so that is the bigger issue in the longer term.
Well... that or the Carpal Syndrome issues we're all going to be developing... ;)