Microsoft Reportedly Working on Windows 11 SE, New Low-Cost Surface

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One of Microsoft’s currently available Surface models. (Photo: Zarif Ali/Unsplash)Microsoft may soon take on the classroom. In an effort to compete with Google’s Chromebooks, the company is working on building a low-cost Surface laptop and a scaled-back version of Windows 11, according to Windows Central. 

The more affordable Surface will likely have a 11.6-inch screen with a 1366 x 768 resolution. Sources for Windows Central claim the device—codenamed Tenjin during development—will possess a fully plastic exterior, ideal for exchanging hands every day in a classroom. It will also contain an Intel Celeron N4120 (commonly used in budget- and classroom-friendly laptops) and offer up to 8GB of RAM. Other specs include a full-sized keyboard and trackpad, a USB-A port, a USB-C port, a headphone jack, and a barrel-style charging port.

As for the device’s operating system, sources say Microsoft is in the process of creating a new edition of Windows 11 titled Windows 11 SE. This OS will likely offer fewer customization options and contain less bloatware than Windows 11, as it needs to be light enough to function smoothly on modest hardware. Though the general characteristics of Windows 11 will still be there, students may not be able to download apps outside of those offered on the Windows Store, including alternative web browsers. Microsoft has previously offered simplified versions of its operating systems using the “S” or “SE” moniker, such as with Windows 10 S, the last slimmed-down Windows OS to have entered the classroom.

Smaller laptops with scaled-back operating systems have made their way into the classroom in recent years. (Photo: Jeswin Thomas/Unsplash)

While there are a handful of durable laptops geared toward education on the market, Microsoft’s most obvious competitor would be the Chromebook. Available from a wide range of manufacturers such as Acer, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung, Chromebooks exclusively run Google’s Chrome OS and are intended to be affordable and easy to use. Laptops have been growing in popularity within the confines of K-12 classrooms for a few years now, but with the rise in hybrid learning, dependence on these devices has spiked. Even without the unique routines necessitated by Covid-19, more and more edtech companies are producing virtual learning and tutoring tools, making laptops and tablets all the more practical at school.  

As of now, the low-cost Surface and Windows 11 SE are just rumors (albeit pretty solid ones). Neither the device nor its OS have a public release date.

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