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Microsoft's New Windows ad: the Surface is a, um, Surface

A new ad for Windows 8.1 features the return of the Start button. It also still cannot decide whether the Surface is a PC or a tablet. Or does it offer the definitive explanation?

Back to the start. Microsoft/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It's the debate that has divided families, offices, and nations.

More friendships have been destroyed over this issue than any other save for "boxers or briefs?"

Every time it seems there's an answer, the questions again rise from the dead, like a bad guy with a gun at the end of a thriller.

Is the Surface a PC or a tablet?

In a new Windows 8.1 ad, Microsoft answers that question. By avoiding it (or not).

The voiceover tells us: "You can do it all, simpler and easier, on your Windows tablet, PC or Surface."

There we have it. Surface is neither a tablet, nor a PC.

Last week, however, at the launch of Surface 2, the Surface's marketing director, Robin Seiler, was heard to say: "Surface is a productivity tablet, not an entertainment tablet."

But it's a tablet, yes?

Truly, I prefer the explanation of the voiceover in this new ad -- an ad that also heralds the return of the Start button.

The Surface doesn't have to be a tablet or a PC. It can just be itself, its own category, its own thing.

It looks different enough not to have to be classified as one thing or another. It's supposed to be a new thing. Let it be one.

The most important thing is whether real people will warm to it, embrace it and appreciate that it is, indeed, not only different, but somehow suits their lives.

That, however, is still to be answered.