Three months ago, Microsoft launched its new Surface Pro tablet, replacing the Surface Pro 4 that it launched in October 2015. The new Pro features Intel's 7th-generation 'Kaby Lake' processors, replacing the 6th-gen 'Skylake' chips used in the Pro 4.
But Microsoft still hasn't launched a full replacement for its Surface Book, which was announced alongside the Pro 4 almost two years ago. It did release a 'refreshed' Surface Book with Performance Base last year, which featured upgraded graphics, and improved battery life - but the processors remained the same as the original model. That makes the device surprisingly outdated, especially considering the astonishingly high prices that Microsoft continues to charge for its various configurations - up to $3,299.
Today, Intel announced its first 8th-generation Core processors, and released a promotional video showcasing some of the key features that users can expect from devices with those new chips. Unexpectedly, it used a device that looks suspiciously like a black version of the Surface Book.
However, Microsoft doesn't offer the Surface Book in black, and never has; the only colour available is 'Silver'. It also doesn't have a 4K display, as shown in the video; the Book's 13.5-inch PixelSense display has a resolution of 3000 x 2000 pixels.
And yet, the device appears identical to the Surface Book in every respect - aside from its color - including its distinctive 'dynamic fulcrum hinge', and the location of the dedicated button on its keyboard that allows its display section to be safely detached from the base.
There's a great deal here that doesn't make sense. Given that the current range of Surface Books all use processors that are two generations older than those announced today, it seems like an extremely peculiar choice for the starring role in Intel's video. The obvious assumption, then, is that the device is a newer version of the Surface Book, with 8th-gen chips, and a new black design.
But that raises the question of why Intel, rather than Microsoft itself, would be providing the first 'official' look at the next-generation Surface Book; after all, Microsoft held a high-profile launch event even for its refreshed Performance Base models, so it would be rather odd for the company to allow Intel to steal its thunder on this occasion.
There's another elephant in the room too. When Microsoft unveiled the new Surface Pro in May, it also introduced a new version of its Surface Pen. Three of the colors in which the Pen is offered - Platinum, Burgundy, and Cobalt Blue - match those of the Surface Pro, and the all-new Surface Laptop, which Microsoft released in June. However, the fourth color - Black - doesn't match any device in Microsoft's current Surface range... but it would go rather nicely with a black Surface Book.
For now, we have far more questions than answers - and it's worth bearing in mind that this isn't the first time that hopes have been raised of a black Book. And it's entirely possible that Intel simply used the Surface Book to create a digital model for its video, as an example of a generic Windows notebook, rather than signalling that this exact device is coming soon with an 8th-gen Intel chip.
You can judge for yourself by viewing the full, original video (and make sure you let us know what you think in the comments below):