Microsoft announces Windows 11 SE and Surface Laptop SE, aimed at K-8 education

Microsoft announces Windows 11 SE and Surface Laptop SE, aimed at K-8 education

Today, Microsoft is announcing Windows 11 SE, its latest attempt to strip down the OS and aim at the educational market. In other words, Windows 11 SE is the latest attempt from the Redmond firm to compete with Chromebooks.

Windows 11 SE is aimed at K-8 students specifically. If you hand a five-year-old a Windows laptop, it can be a bit complicated to figure out. That’s the idea behind the new SKU. It’s meant to be easier and more intuitive.

Windows 11 SE is simpler, so it’s easier for kids to use

There’s a lot that’s different, although there’s also a lot that’s the same. In Windows 11 SE, apps open full-screen by default, although you can still use them in traditional windowed mode. Snap Layouts is still there, but it’s only going to layouts for two apps at a time, as splitscreen apps are still necessary.


Windows 11 SE Start Menu

The new student-focused OS also removes some features. Unlike previous attempts like this that emphasized the Microsoft Store, this one removes it completely. Another Windows 11 feature that you won’t find here is the Widgets panel.

One other key difference is that this is a cloud-focused operating system. All files will automatically be saved to the cloud, so students aren’t going to lose their files. Moreover, OneDrive is still going to sync the files so that they can work offline if they need to. This comes from the fact that 16 million K-12 students don’t have internet access outside of school.

Obviously, this isn’t Microsoft’s first attempt at penetrating the classroom and grabbing that space away from Google’s Chrome OS. The idea is that if students grow up using a platform, that’s what they’ll continue to use later in life. The last attempt was Windows 10 S, a locked down version of Windows 10 Pro that only offered apps from the Microsoft Store. Interestingly, the original Surface Laptop was a launch device for that.

One thing that’s changed, however, is Edge. With Windows RT, you had to use Internet Explorer, and with Windows 10 S, you had to use Edge built on Microsoft’s in-house EdgeHTML engine. Now, Edge is built from Chromium, so in Windows 11 SE, you can be more confident that any web app you’re using is going to work.

The Surface Laptop SE is the lowest-price Surface yet

Surface Laptop SE with mouse

And going back to its roots as an educational device, Microsoft is announcing the Surface Laptop SE. It starts at just $249, the lowest price of a Surface ever, packing a dual-core Intel Celeron processor, an 11.6-inch 16:9 HD screen, and an HD webcam. It’s also designed for reparability, meaning that components like the display, battery, keyboard, and motherboard can all be replaced.

It also uses a barrel charger instead of Surface Connect, and it has USB Type-A and Type-C ports. The base model has a Celeron N4020, 4GB RAM, and 64GB eMMC storage, while the higher-end SKU has a Celeron N4120, 8GB RAM, and 128GB eMMC storage. The laptop weighs in at 2.45 pounds and is just under three quarters of an inch thick.

Teacher and student using Surface Laptop SE

The color is comes in is Glacier, and you’ll only be able to get it through educational channels. Indeed, the only way to get Windows 11 SE is by getting a new laptop, which can come from partners like Acer, ASUS, Dell, Dynabook, Fujitsu, HP, JK-IP, Lenovo, and Positivo.

Windows 11 SE doesn’t replace any other products in Microsoft’s lineup, so you’ll still see Windows 11 Pro aimed at students. You’ll also see S mode. This is something that’s specific to K-8, so other products would be used for older students.

About author

Rich Woods
Rich Woods

Managing Editor for XDA Computing. I've been covering tech from smartphones to PCs since 2013. If you see me at a trade show, come say hi and let me ask you weird questions about why you use the tech you use.

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