Microsoft has announced a new version of Windows and a cheaper version of their Surface Laptop, called the Windows 11 SE and the Surface Laptop SE, respectively. The new OS and device are made with students in mind, and Microsoft expects them to integrate into the K-8 classroom ecosystem.
The new Surface Laptop SE will start at $249, much cheaper than its fully-fledged sibling.
Microsoft also announced that companies like Acer, ASUS, Dell, Dynabook, Fujitsu, HP, JP-IK, Lenovo, and Positivo would release similar devices running on Intel and AMD processors.
“Windows 11 SE was designed and built during the pandemic to address the most fundamental challenges that schools will face in the blended learning world. It brings performance enhancements that optimise resources on low-cost devices to deliver more comprehensive learning experiences and is simple to deploy and manage,” Microsoft announced on Tuesday.
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Surface Laptop SE
The Surface Laptop SE is Microsoft’s most affordable Surface device yet starting at just $249. The device comes with an 11.6-inch screen running at 1366x768p, a 720p camera and battery life up to 16 hours “with typical use.”
The laptop will be powered by either the Intel Celeron N4020 or N4120 with 4 or 8GB RAM. There’s the option for 64 or 128GB onboard eMMC storage. On the port end, you get one USB-A, one USB-C, a barrel-type DC connector for charging and a 3.5mm headphone jack making this the first Surface laptop shipping without Microsoft’s magnetic Surface charging port.
Apart from the internals, Microsoft has also put in work to make the laptop quite easily repairable. The base of the new laptop has standard screws that IT admins can open to replace the battery, keyboard, display or even the motherboard.
The laptop will be launching in early 2022 through education channels around the school buying season in the US, UK, Canada and Japan. The base model with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage comes in at $249 while the other variant comes in at $329 with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage.
Microsoft goes back to school with Windows 11
Windows 11 SE adds up on the existing Windows 11 experience providing students and teachers more choice and flexibility and a distraction-free environment for studying. The new OS also integrates feedback from School IT admins.
The new OS has been optimised for commonly used programs across the education industry, including online and offline capabilities for Microsoft 365 programs such as the Office suite. Programs like Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Onenote and Onedrive will function offline on the new OS, with Onedrive even automatically syncing files as soon as the students show up to school and have internet access.
Windows 11 SE will support third-party apps such as Zoom and Chrome as well under the pretext of providing flexibility to schools. IT admins can get their hands on Windows Autopilot, which according to the company provides “zero-touch device deployment.”
In addition to the above, new apps and services can only be downloaded and installed on devices running the OS by IT admins. This will be powered by Intune for Education, allowing admins to deliver apps and policies to student devices.
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