Photo Credit: Microsoft
Windows 11 SE has been released as Microsoft's latest attempt to take on Google's Chrome OS. The new Windows operating system is meant for entry-level laptops — targeted at students and educators. It is also optimised for Microsoft apps including the Office suite and Edge browser. Users can, however, also get third-party apps including Zoom and Chrome. Alongside Windows 11 SE, Microsoft has launched the Surface Laptop SE as its answer to Chrome OS-based Chromebooks. This new machine runs on Windows 11 SE out-of-the-box and is specifically designed for school students.
Microsoft has brought Windows 11 SE as a stripped down version of Windows 11 to work on entry-level devices. It is touted to bring a “distraction-free” environment for students where they are not allowed to install any third-party apps on their own. Windows 11 SE also doesn't include Microsoft Store for downloading any new apps. Nevertheless, IT admins can choose to have certain third-party apps. Chrome and Zoom are among the initial apps available for Windows 11 SE, though Microsoft is yet to detail all its supported apps.
In addition to the lack of Microsoft Store, Windows 11 SE doesn't have the Snap Layouts interface that is available on the regular Windows 11 release. The Widgets section is also missing on the new Windows version.
Microsoft says that it has designed Windows 11 SE after taking feedback from teachers and school IT admins. This means that the new operating system may not be useful for all use cases.
IT admins can control the experience on Windows 11 SE using cloud-based mobile device management service Intune for Education or Intune. The operating system also comes preloaded with Microsoft Edge to let users access Web-based apps and websites.
Microsoft Office apps including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, and OneDrive are also available for offline usage on Windows 11 SE devices. Further, Microsoft has promised to expand third-party app support on the new platform over time to include apps coming from categories such as common test taking, accessibility, content filtering, classroom orchestration.
On the part of its interface, Windows 11 SE gives a similar look and feel that you get on Windows 11. There is a centrally-aligned Start menu button and the refreshed taskbar. The operating system is also claimed to help deliver a better battery life by using less hardware resources.
Windows 11 SE is not available for all device configurations and is available only for machines with 4GB or 8GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of storage, as per the details available on an FAQ page. Users who are on Windows 11 SE are also not provided with a native way to move to the standard Windows 11 or Windows 10. Although IT admins can install a Windows operating system on a Windows 11 SE device, the device in this case will no longer be able to move back to Windows 11 SE.
Importantly, Windows 11 SE isn't the first attempt by Microsoft to take on Chrome OS as it took similar steps in the past as well. The most recent one was the launch of Windows 10 S in 2017 that later transformed into the S Mode on the regular Windows 10. The Redmond company has, however, not yet been able to attract a large number of students and teachers to opt for its solutions over Chrome OS.
Surface Laptop SE price starts at $249 (roughly Rs. 18,500) for the base 4GB RAM + 64GB storage configuration. The laptop also comes in an 8GB RAM + 128GB storage variant that is priced at $329 (roughly Rs. 24,400), reports The Verge. Both options will be available through education channels in the US, UK, Canada, and Japan starting early 2022.
Aside from the Surface Laptop SE, PC manufacturers including Acer, ASUS, Dell, Dynabook, Fujitsu, HP, JP-IK, Lenovo, and Positivo are bringing their Windows 11 SE models later this year and into 2022.
The Surface Laptop SE runs on Windows 11 SE out-of-the-box and features an 11.6-inch display with a 1,366x768 pixels resolution that brings a 16:9 aspect ratio. The laptop is powered by an Intel Celeron N4020 or N4120 processor, along with Intel UHD Graphics 600, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, and 64GB or 128GB of eMMC storage. It comes with a 720p webcam for video chats.
Connectivity-wise, the Surface Laptop SE houses a single USB-A port — alongside a USB Type-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The laptop also has stereo speakers and is rated to deliver up to 16 hours of battery life on a single charge.