What is Windows 11 SE? Microsoft’s Chrome OS competitor explained

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Windows has always been the most popular desktop operating system. However, over the years it has faced stiff competition from Chrome OS and iPad OS. Especially when it comes to cheaper devices, under $ 350, for educational and other use cases. Chromebooks and iPads are now very popular for these purposes, and this is because of the user-friendliness of these systems’ user interfaces for mobile users who have never used traditional computers before.

Microsoft seems to be making an effort to compete with these devices in the lower end of the market now. It recently announced Windows 11 SE – a lighter, easier-to-use version of Windows 11 intended for educational use. Here’s everything you need to know about Windows 11 SE.

Related: Everything you need to know about Windows 11

What is Windows 11 SE?

Windows 11 SE Floral Wallpaper

Windows 11 SE Bloom wallpaper

Windows 11 SE is Microsoft’s new operating system designed for education, specifically K-8 classrooms. Microsoft calls it a cloud-centric operating system. This puts it squarely in competition with Google’s Chrome OS, which is also widely used in the education sector. The company also notes that it is designed to be an affordable and simple solution to making learning more accessible.

Microsoft has not officially revealed what the SE stands for. However, given the vocabulary it uses for this version of Windows 11, it’s safe to assume that it stands for Student Edition or Simple Edition, the former being more likely.

Windows 11 SE is not the same as the S mode we have seen in Windows before. They have some differences in characteristics.

Read also: How to install Windows 11

Key features of Windows 11 SE

Acer Windows 11 SE promotional image

Windows 11 SE comes with its own sets of features to distinguish it from Windows 11. While some of these may be restrictions, they are in place to ensure that the environment is distraction-free and that there is some administrator control level. Here are the main features of Windows 11 SE.

  • Controlled application installation – The aforementioned administrator control helps with the mass deployment of applications and services for many students, as well as the restriction of certain applications. The school administration can choose to allow or block applications. IT administrators at the educational institution will have control through a main console called Microsoft Intune.
  • Launching the application in full screen – Mimicking mobile operating systems, and to facilitate distraction-free calling, applications will launch in full screen mode by default on this operating system.
  • Simplified user interface – It comes with some UI changes like simplified layouts to let you stack two windows side by side, while other features like widgets have been removed.
  • Cloud based storage – Windows 11 SE comes with 1TB of OneDrive storage and will back up files to OneDrive by default.
  • Optimized for Microsoft services – Windows 11 SE is optimized for Microsoft services. It comes with Microsoft 365 preinstalled.
  • Better battery life – That’s a promise Microsoft makes explicitly, and with Windows 11 SE lighter than Windows 11, it’s expected to be true.
  • Support for third-party applications – Unlike S mode, Windows 11 will allow the installation of third-party applications outside of the Microsoft Store.

Microsoft will not sell Windows 11 SE separately. There are also restrictions around reinstalling Windows 11 SE, making it impossible to reinstall, once removed.

Windows 11 SE vs. Chrome OS

Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook Chromebook

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Windows 11 SE is a competitor of Chrome OS. Microsoft is targeting the education market, with an emphasis on manageability for administration. With Windows 11 SE targeting educational institutions first, it seems well positioned to get off to a good start, when it comes to releasing the operating system into the mass market.

However, when it comes to the actual usability, it is the students who will be using these systems. As such, Microsoft’s changes to the user interface should be sufficient to support Chromebooks. On paper, it seems well positioned to take on Chrome OS in this aspect.

Chrome OS has a solid selection of apps, with support for Android apps and Linux apps. Windows 11 SE, meanwhile, has the huge catalog of Windows apps. With third-party app support open, Windows 11 might end up having a higher app catalog. Additionally, Microsoft could let administrators install the Android and Linux subsystems. That would mean Windows 11 SE could have access to all the apps that Chromebooks do, and then a few more.

Microsoft also appears to be focusing on low-cost devices for the time being. On the other hand, you get Chromebooks in a slightly wider price range. Most of the sales come from affordable devices, so Microsoft has the right idea there.

Of course, we’ll have to wait and watch how Windows 11 SE actually performs compared to Chrome OS. The question will be whether Microsoft has succeeded in simplifying the traditional OS enough for educational use, and whether it can facilitate the adoption of this new platform.

Read also: What is a Chromebook, what can and can’t it do?

Windows 11 SE Laptops You Can Buy

Microsoft Surface Laptop SE

Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority

Windows 11 SE is pretty new, so laptops that run it aren’t quite available yet. Laptops running Windows 11 SE will be available later in 2021 and early 2022. A few models have already been announced, the most notable being the Microsoft Surface Laptop SE, which will be available in early 2022, starting at $ 249. .

The Surface Laptop SE is a good model of the specs we’ll see from these devices, with an 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 resolution display, an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage.

In addition, other manufacturers are on board, including Acer, Asus, Dell, Dynabook, Fujitsu, HP, JK-IP, Lenovo and Positivo. At the moment there are 11 other Windows 11 SE laptops that Microsoft lists.

Related: The best Chromebooks for students

Windows 11 SE laptops listed on Microsoft’s website so far

Additionally, the Dynabook E10-S, which initially launched with Windows 10 Pro Education (like some of the laptops listed above), will also be available with Windows 11 SE, for $ 290. Microsoft has not yet listed it on its website.

These laptops have screen sizes ranging from 11.6 inches to 14 inches. They have a mix of features as stated by Microsoft – touch screens, digital pen support, built-in pen storage, LTE capability, security features, rugged construction, spill-proof, all-day battery, noise-canceling microphone, and HD video. , and mute hard drive. You get 4 or 8 GB of RAM and 64 or 128 GB of eMMC storage.

At this time, Microsoft does not sell directly to consumers. However, educational institutions can contact Microsoft sales to get their hands on these devices.

That’s all we know about Windows 11 SE at the moment. Stay tuned for more as Microsoft releases more information and manufacturers release more SE laptops.


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Steven L. Nielsen