Not a new OS

What’s Windows 11 SE, and what laptops support it? Here’s the answer.

Microsoft creates Windows 11 SE and low-cost Surface Laptop SE to compete (again) with Chromebooks.

Windows 11 SE laptop
  • Microsoft unveils Windows 11 SE.
  • It’s a new variant of Windows 11 tailored for the school market.
  • Windows 11 SE will come pre-loaded on the Surface Laptop SE and other education laptops.

Microsoft has created a new variant of its OS called “Windows 11 SE.” The company announced it during its November 9th Education event. However, it’s not a new version of Windows. Instead, it’s a new edition that is specifically optimized for the education market. In other words, it’s yet another attempt from Microsoft to compete with ChromeOS running on Chromebooks in the education market since Google has a big chunk of this business.

Windows 11 SE isn’t an OS that you or businesses would be able to buy and install on any device either. Microsoft will ship it pre-loaded on specific low-cost school laptops, including its new Surface Laptop SE and other computers from different partners, such as Dell, HP, Acer, ASUS,  Lenovo, Dynabook, Fujitsu, JK-IP, Lenovo, Positivo, and many others.

Also, schools will have the option to use another version of Windows as required, but after switching, there won’t be a way back to Windows 11 SE.

Windows 11 SE is simply Windows 11 with some restrictions and other changes to optimize the experience for Office, Microsoft Edge, and other Microsoft services. Some of the bundled apps include Teams, Office, OneNote, Minecraft for Education, and Flipgrid.

However, this variant won’t be restricted to only Microsoft apps. For example, this variant won’t include the Microsoft Store app, but administrators will be able to download and install some apps, such as Google Chrome and Zoom. The list of allowed apps is limited, but the curated list will grow over time.

The software giant says that the SE edition of Windows will run a special version of Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, and OneDrive) from Microsoft 365 Education service that will work offline, and the changes will sync automatically when an internet connection is detected.

Also, the new experience will try to create an environment without distractions by removing the Widgets feature, tweaking Snap assist to only allow snapping two windows side-by-side, and apps will open in full-screen mode by default.

According to the company, the “SE” prefix doesn’t stand for anything. However, it does sound like it could mean Windows 11 School Edition.

As for network administrators, the company explains that Windows Autopilot will provide a zero-touch device deployment, while Intune for Education will offer a simple and secure cloud management solution to deploy and manage devices from anywhere. And using this approach, updates will occur silently, automatically, and outside of the classroom through policies minimizing disruptions.

Microsoft also revealed its new Surface Laptop SE, a $249 laptop designed and tweaked to run Windows 11 SE. This is a low-end 11.6-inch screen device at 1366 x 768-pixel resolution that has an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of memory, 64GB of eMMC storage (slower than NVMe drives), and modified UEFI, allowing up to 16 hours of battery life.

The new Windows 11 SE devices are expected to arrive in the education market late in 2021 and early 2022.