Microsoft’s $ 249 Surface Laptop SE challenges affordable Chromebooks


Microsoft hosted a large Surface event in mid-September where it was unveiled all new Surface devices will come out this holiday season. The all-new flagship Surface Laptop Studio, Surface Pro 8 and the affordable new Surface Go 3 are suitable for different budgets. The Surface Go 3 was the cheapest Surface device unveiled at the event, starting at $ 399. But it turns out Microsoft has an even cheaper Windows 11 offering coming up, which will compete with Google’s Chromebooks. It’s the $ 249 Surface Laptop SE that will run Windows 11 SE.

Surface Laptop SE caters to education

Chromebooks have become very popular with schools in recent years. The pandemic has further underlined the need for affordable computers to serve students both at school and at home. Hybrid learning is something most students have experienced by now and it depends on the ability of students and teachers to interact via video chat apps. And Microsoft offers these types of Windows customers more affordable Surface hardware for all their school-related computing needs.

Microsoft unveiled the Surface Laptop SE Tuesday, along with the Windows 11 SE operating system that runs on these machines. The attractive price of the device is the first thing that will impress. A $ 249 PC capable of running Windows 11 is an exciting proposition. But the Surface Laptop SE will only be available to commercial EDU customers, Microsoft explained. Shipping begins early next year to the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan.

For that price, you get an 11.6-inch laptop that compromises when it comes to build quality and specs. The laptop has a plastic case and features more affordable components. You get an Intel Celeron chip, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. A 3.5mm jack and several ports are also included in the box. Battery life, meanwhile, is 16 hours, according to Microsoft.

Surface Laptop SE is intended for a cloud-first environment. And Microsoft says it’s easy to set up, delete, and repair.

The Windows 11 SE experience

As expected, the Surface Laptop SE performs a special Windows 11 version optimized for schools. As you may have guessed, this means a lot of integrated software solutions from Microsoft. But education customers looking for Windows alternatives to Chromebooks are likely considering Microsoft’s software.

Microsoft explains differently blog post that Windows 11 SE is optimized for education, whether or not it includes an Internet connection. The Microsoft 365 suite will work both online and offline, including apps like Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, and OneDrive. The latter stores the files locally, so that students can access them immediately.

Other Windows 11 SE apps include Microsoft Edge, which will support critical classroom extensions. Microsoft Teams, Minecraft for Education, and Flipgrid are also part of the Windows 11 SE experience you’ll find on the Surface Laptop SE. The operating system will support third-party apps like Zoom and Chrome, which are popular with schools. But Windows 11 SE won’t come with Microsoft Store pre-installed.

Windows 11 will notice some changes in Windows 11 SE. The school-centric OS has a new wallpaper and lacks support for widgets. Apps start in full screen mode, and Snap Layouts offer easier choices for resizing windows.

Finally, Windows 11 SE will not only power Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop SE, but other low-cost Chromebook alternatives as well. Companies like Acer, Asus, Dell, Dynabook, Fujitsu, HP, JK-IP, Lenovo and Positivo will release their affordable Windows 11 SE machines in the future.


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