Microsoft has today unveiled a new version of Windows 11, alongside a brand new laptop, in order to compete with Chromebooks in the classroom.
Windows 11 SE will feature a more streamlined design of the full-fat version, removing distractions such as widgets, simplifying the Snap Layouts feature and coming with all the key Microsoft 365 apps pre-installed.
It won’t just support Microsoft apps either, with Microsoft confirming third-party software such as Zoom and Chrome will also be supported. With all this in mind, it looks like Microsoft is attempting to replicate the user-friendly experience offered by ChromeOS, which is widely used in education.
Microsoft has also confirmed that a number of companies are already working on low-cost laptops that will be optimised for Windows 11 SE and sold exclusively to schools. These brands include Acer, Asus, Dell, Dynabook, Fujitsu, HP, JK-IP, Lenovo, and Positivo.
Microsoft has also announced its very own Surface Laptop SE, which will cost just $249 and will feature the new Windows 11 SE operating system.
This new laptop will pack an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC storage. Those are very much entry-level specs, which are normally only found inside Chromebooks. But the optimisations made with the Windows 11 SE operating system should hopefully allow for a smooth (albeit limited) performance.
The Surface Laptop SE will also have a 11.6-inch display with a 1366 x 768 resolution. Again, that’s nothing too impressive since it misses the standard Full HD resolution, but Microsoft is clearly prioritising value over quality here, which makes sense for a laptop designed for education purposes.
Microsoft says it expects Windows 11 SE laptops to start rolling out towards the end of the year, continuing into 2022. It doesn’t seem like there are any plans for these devices to become available to the wider public just yet, but we’ve got our fingers crossed as it will be great to see Microsoft offering a budget-friendly alternative to Chromebooks.