Microsoft has announced Windows 11 SE, a special edition of Windows 11 specially optimized for the education sector and that will come pre-installed in very cheap laptops from Microsoft itself and other partners such as HP, ASUS, Dell, Acer or Lenovo.
We teased it a few months ago when it appeared in a leaked Microsoft documentation and here it is. Windows 11 SE is another attempt to curb the huge market share that Google Chromebooks have achieved in the educational segment. It is a development that follows the line of blocked / limited versions from the Windows RT that came with the Surface RT tablet, to the last Windows 11 in S mode. However, is different from this and the Windows versions for ARM as we will see below.
According to Microsoft, «Windows 11 SE was designed and built during the pandemic to address the most fundamental challenges schools will face in the world of blended learning.«. His approach and motivations are clear and they go more by the management that by the own use of the operating system: «for teachers who need a simple, distraction-free environment for their students and for school IT administrators who need devices that are secure, easy to deploy and manage, and that perform well all day in changing school conditions«.
Obviously, it is not intended for the general public and in fact, Microsoft won’t release it for consumers, limiting it to OEM manufacturers who will pre-install a good number of it on their computers, based on really cheap laptops that will be sold in the $ 200-300 range. Also, these teams will not be available in the general retail market, only in specific channels. What you can do is buy a laptop with Windows 11 SE, delete and install a full version of Windows 11.
Windows 11 SE, features
- The name ‘SE’ is not intended to be an abbreviation for anything. It is just a name to differentiate it from other editions of Windows 11.
- It is specially optimized for low-cost devices in educational settings, especially in American grades K-8.
- It will not be available in the People’s Republic of China as there are specific government requirements around cloud storage and management.
- Will be available for OEM only. Consumers will not be able to download and install it on their PCs.
- Yes, the Windows 11 operating system can be installed on these computers, but once installed, you will not be able to return to Windows 11 SE.
- The user interface has been simplified over Windows 11, the Widgets section and other actions have been removed from the taskbar and desktops. Applications will start by default in full screen mode.
- You will not have access to the Microsoft Store. Students will not be able to install any native Windows applications on these computers. Only device administrators will be able to install apps on them.
- The applications of Microsoft Officeincluding Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, and OneDrive, will be available for offline use on Windows 11 SE devices as part of a Microsoft 365 license.
- Microsoft supports six categories of native applications in Windows 11 SE (in Win32 and Universal (UWP) formats. They are selected to include the most important applications for education. Supported are:
- 1. Content filtering applications
- 2. Solutions for the realization of exams
- 3. Accessibility applications
- Four. Applications of effective communication in the classroom
- 5. Applications diagnostic, management, connectivity and compatibility essentials
- 6. Browsers
- The system requires Intune for Education for administration, a service that provides a simple and convenient platform for managing all student devices, including Windows and Apple machines.
- Azure Active Directory (AAD) and Microsoft Account (MSA) will be the only identity authentication tools supported on Windows 11 SE devices.
- Windows 11 SE is a cloud-first experience with user content served by OneDrive. The current version of Windows 11 supports file storage only on OneDrive, but Microsoft will continue to evaluate whether to expand to other cloud storage solutions in later versions.
- The Microsoft 365 A1 license carries a one-time fee of $ 38 per device, for up to 6 years of services.
Regarding the differences between Windows 11 SE and Windows in S mode we can point out:
- Windows 11 SE has a user interface even more simplified to minimize distractions and keep the focus on education.
- There is no Microsoft Store for Windows 11 SE, so IT educators can control which apps and tools
- Windows 11 SE has built-in enhancements to optimize performance on low-cost hardware.
- There is no way to upgrade or switch to Windows 11 from Windows 11 SE, while users can switch to the full version of Windows 10 from Windows 10 in S mode at any time.
- Windows 10 in S mode was created simply to limit applications; the other enhancements have yet to be developed.
- Windows 11 SE is optimized for institutional use, while Windows 10 in S mode was also available for
In summary. Windows 11 SE is a special version dedicated absolutely to the educational environment. Even more limited when it comes to installing and running applications than the “S” mode, it does not offer any interest to the ordinary consumer and in fact Microsoft itself does not recommend its use outside the educational segment. What will be possible is to purchase a laptop with this system and install a standard Windows 11 license. We will see the first teams with this system in future articles.