Windows 11 SE seems to be a stripped-down version of the new OS
While we’re waiting for Microsoft to shine light on all the details of Windows 11 at a June 24 event, a build leaked earlier this week has given us a fairly good idea of what to expect. We have our own hands-on coverage of the build, but we’re still still digging up more as we go. Now, a new SKU called Windows 11 SE has been discovered. It appears to be a version of the OS with significant restrictions to what users can do.
The user says this is a successor for “Windows 10 Cloud Edition”, which was the name used for something that ended up being called Windows 10 S. This was similarly a locked-down version of Windows and it didn’t support apps from outside the Microsoft Store. The reasons for this were security and performance, but users weren’t thrilled with the idea. Microsoft eventually changed Windows 10 S to “Windows 10 in S mode”. However, hints of another Windows 10 Cloud SKU showed up with build 21364 for Insiders in the Dev channel. It seems like it’s actually going to end up being called Windows 11 SE.
Based on what we’ve seen, Windows 11 SE is an SKU for enterprises, and it seems like users can switch to other enterprise-focused SKUs. You can change it to Enterprise, Education, Pro for Workstations, and so on.
Windows 11 SE seems to be a more restrictive SKU, though. In the images below, you can see that the Settings app is missing some pages. Normally, you’d see phone and search settings that aren’t visible here. We can also see that the Microsoft Store doesn’t work out of the box in this edition. This is an odd restriction considering Microsoft usually considers its Store to be a safe haven for apps. The app displays an error saying that the Store is blocked and to contact an IT admin.
Another apparent restriction is that you have to set up the PC with a Microsoft account. Microsoft already pushes users to do this, and the only way to avoid using a Microsoft account is by not connecting to the internet. However, offline account creation is broken in this edition, according to Twitter user Sigma. However, you can switch to a local account after the fact. It’s not possible to have more than one local account through the UI, but you can do it using the command line. Of course, some of these restrictions could be bugs due to the unfinished state of the build.
On the other hand, Windows 11 SE seems to support Win32 apps from outside the Store, which Windows 10 S didn’t. The OS is shown running a game that’s only available on Steam. One possible explanation for this is that it’s intended for organizations to restrict employees to very specific apps needed for work. However, only Microsoft can say for sure what editions will be available and what use cases they’ll have. We’ll have to wait for the event next week to learn more.