The OS will power a new education notebook from Microsoft called the Surface Laptop SE. Third-party PC vendors are also preparing to create new Windows 11 SE laptops.

computers & electronics, laptops, computers & electronics

Microsoft is prepping a new flavor of Windows 11 for elementary and middle school students. 

On Tuesday, Microsoft introduced Windows 11 SE, which will power a kid-friendly education notebook called the Surface Laptop SE. 

“It’s the first Surface specifically made for K-8 students, with an 11.6-inch screen, front-facing 720p HD camera and stereo speakers,” Microsoft VP for Education Marketing Paige Johnson said in the announcement. 

The product starts at $249, and goes on sale early next year. However, the new Surface Laptop SE won’t be offered through retailers. Instead, Microsoft only plans on selling it to schools and institutions through education sales channels. (Meanwhile, the company will continue selling the Surface Laptop Go and Surface Go to both consumers and schools.)

computers & electronics, laptops, computers & electronics

As for Windows 11 SE, the OS looks a lot like the standard Windows 11. However, Microsoft has made some tweaks to simplify it for kids, both in and out of the classroom. 

To do so, Windows 11 SE will automatically open individual apps into full-screen mode. A “snap” feature can also open two app windows side by side, making it easy for a student to view a pair of programs at the same time.

computers & electronics, laptops, computers & electronics

The snap function on Windows 11 SE.

Windows 11 SE will ship with the Chromium-powered Edge browser, so Google Chrome extensions will work on the browser. 

School IT administrators can also remotely push third-party apps to the OS, including Chrome, Zoom, and any local education programs. Meanwhile, teachers can remotely place dedicated buttons on the OS that’ll load a web page with one click, removing the need for a student to type a long URL into a browser address bar. 

computers & electronics, laptops, computers & electronics

The simplified Start screen on Windows 11 SE.

In addition, the various Office apps, such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel, will work without an internet connection. School projects saved on the programs will also automatically sync to the cloud once the laptop connects to a reliable internet connection. 

The news represents Microsoft’s latest effort to compete against Google’s Chromebooks, which have become particularly popular as a low-cost option to supply students with computers.

The Surface Laptop SE doesn’t offer much in terms of technical specs; the 2.45-pound notebook features a 1,366-by-768 screen, Intel Celeron processors, and either 4GB or 8GB of RAM. But according to Microsoft, one key selling point is the product’s repairability. The company designed the Surface Laptop SE so that school staff members can swap out components on-site, removing the need to send the product to a dedicated repair center.  

computers & electronics, laptops, computers & electronics

Microsoft also plans on delivering the OS through third-party education laptops. PC vendors including Acer, Asus, Dell, Dynabook, and Lenovo are all preparing products for Windows 11 SE using chips from both Intel and AMD. 

“We expect the majority of devices to be available for ordering through education channels later this year and into 2022, aligned with the education buying season,” the company added. Some of the third-party devices will also start at $249.

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