Microsoft goes after Chromebooks with a lighter, cloud-focused version of Windows 11

Humza

Posts: 1,000   +169
Staff member
Recap: Windows 10 S was Microsoft’s most recent attempt at swaying teachers and students away from Google Chromebooks. While the stripped-down OS variant was met with lukewarm reception due to an overly restrictive user experience and a lackluster app store, Microsoft is now trying again with a special edition of Windows 11 that’s meant to be more open to third-party apps and will ship without the Microsoft Store.

Microsoft is looking to challenge Google in the K-8 classroom with a special, education-focused version of Windows 11, which it hopes will become popular with schools and students. This time around, the company is also launching accompanying hardware, namely the Surface Laptop SE.

Other OEMs like Lenovo and Acer have also listed their SE models, but it’s the $249 Surface Laptop that realizes Microsoft’s vision for Windows 11 and education in terms of software and hardware. As expected, the device packs the bare minimum of specs, which include an Intel Celeron chip (dual-core or quad-core), 4GB/8GB RAM, 64GB/128GB eMMC storage and an 11.6-inch display with a 1,366 x 768 resolution.

Connectivity is enabled by Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, a 3.5mm jack, 1 x USB-A and USB-C cable, alongside a proprietary power connector. There’s also a 720p webcam and stereo speakers to help with online learning, while Microsoft’s 365 suite with Word, OneDrive and other productivity apps should test the aforementioned hardware to its limits.

During normal use, the laptop is expected to last for up to 16 hours on a single charge. Microsoft also highlighted the Surface’s high-quality typing experience at a budget price, performance enhancements for resource optimization, and hardware repairability. Major components like display, battery, motherboard, and keyboard can be easily repaired onsite, according to the company.

Interestingly, Windows 11 SE ditches the Microsoft Store and will support third-party apps, including Chrome and Zoom. The OS will allow these apps to open in full-screen mode and comes with a simplified Snap Layout that only allows apps to be placed side by side. There’s also a colorful new wallpaper for students to notice.

Microsoft says that Windows 11 SE will only be shipped on low-cost laptops meant for school and student use. The company expects more OEM models with varying specs and price points to become available throughout this year and into 2022 as the education buying season approaches. Considering the declining demand for entry-level laptops, it'll be interesting to see how (and if) Microsoft's push with Windows 11 SE and low-cost hardware can affect the trend.

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Dimitriid

Posts: 2,109   +4,035
I highly doubt 11 SE can come close even touching Linux when it comes to actually enabling decent performance out of modest hardware but we'll see. I suspect students would be better served with a Raspberry Pi 4 and Linux but well there's no chance of that happening anytime soon.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 580   +493
I wonder how long before MS will pull the plug on cutdown Windows. Historically, they will try, fail, then pull the plug. Very half hearted effort in my opinion.
 

seeprime

Posts: 674   +885
And as with them, I am wondering why you‘d want one. I guess once you go past the base configuration, you can get an actually decent laptop for around the same price.
I still have my 10+ year old MSI netbook. I upgraded it all the way to 2-GB RAM and a 240-GB SSD. It was used for surveillance storage of our shop. It worked great for that. But, was a complete dog doing anything else. Forget even trying to use it with the original 1-GB RAM, Windows 7 Starter, and 160-GB 5400-rpm hard drive. It was cheap and served it's purpose. If it used a multi-core 64-bit processor, instead of the horrible single core Atom, I'd load Linux on it and keep using it. 32-bit Linux isn't very fast on a ten year old single core Atom processor, faster than Windows certainly, but still painfully slow.
 

Irata

Posts: 2,053   +3,516
I still have my 10+ year old MSI netbook. I upgraded it all the way to 2-GB RAM and a 240-GB SSD. It was used for surveillance storage of our shop. It worked great for that. But, was a complete dog doing anything else. Forget even trying to use it with the original 1-GB RAM, Windows 7 Starter, and 160-GB 5400-rpm hard drive. It was cheap and served it's purpose. If it used a multi-core 64-bit processor, instead of the horrible single core Atom, I'd load Linux on it and keep using it. 32-bit Linux isn't very fast on a ten year old single core Atom processor, faster than Windows certainly, but still painfully slow.
My niece had one that sounds like yours - upgraded it, as well, but it was only borderline useable (kept Windows).
 

bazz2004

Posts: 1,846   +303
I'd like to add something about atom netbooks as I have a Samsung N220 which is a really nicely made machine. It wasn't much good for anything out of the box but I maxed the ram at 2GB and added an SSD. Much better, so I took it through Windows upgrades to Windows 10. That was the kiss of death for performance.
It now performs very well because instead of going forward I found it worked fine with Windows XP. Now that it isn't going to be used for anything where security is an issue the performance is far better than it ever was. With W10 updates took forever but joy with XP there aren't any.
If you have a netbook and are fond of it I'd thoroughly recommend finding out if it will run XP.
 

abdulhkeem

Posts: 7   +1
And then there the sorry excuse of:
your hardware does not meet our standards and if you force upgrade we will cut off all updates; but we are making a new version for the little guys who has a 1000 times slower PC's than you 6 and 7 gen owner.
signed Micro$oft.