Microsoft takes a fresh swing at Chrome OS with Windows 11 SE, launches ‘affordable’ Surface Laptop SE to showcase new OS

By: |
November 10, 2021 2:56 PM

Microsoft’s fresh attempt to compete with Chrome OS—and Chromebooks—comes at a time when demand for laptops and PCs is at an all-time high.

Google has the early mover advantage but that’s not to say Microsoft’s vision lacks potential.

Days after rolling out Windows 11 for ‘eligible’ devices, Microsoft has announced a new version of the OS called Windows 11 SE, modelled specifically for entry-level laptops. Needless to say, that it will have a more watered-down approach as opposed to the full-fledged Windows 11, something that will allow Microsoft to bring it to even more machines—after facing stern criticism over the stringent hardware requirements it is asking consumers to fulfil in order to upgrade.

More specifically, Windows 11 SE will be tuned for education which is to say that Microsoft is taking another swing at Google and its more popular Chrome OS. Unlike Windows 10 in S mode, which was also based on more or less the same concept to bring Windows to more people, Windows 11 SE marks a different trajectory in that it will be more focused and have a clear target audience—schools and students. For the same reason, it will only come installed on new machines.

Microsoft is also launching a $249 ‘Surface Laptop SE’ alongside to showcase the new OS though, many OEMs including Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo have also signed up and are expected to launch Windows 11 SE-based laptops in the coming months. The Surface Laptop SE itself will be available in early 2022 in select markets—India is not one of them.

The Surface Laptop SE will be Microsoft’s most affordable Surface yet—sitting below the more widely available Surface Go. Basically, you can take this as a ‘rough’ estimate of the kind of hardware that Windows 11 SE will work on—hopefully well enough—and the kind of machines it will enable in the future. We’re looking at an 11.6-inch 16:9 display with a 1366 x 768 resolution, a choice of Intel’s Celeron N4020 or N4120 processors paired with either 4GB or 8GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of eMMC storage. Rounding off the package are a USB-A port, USB-C port, DC connector, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a 1-megapixel front camera with 720p support.

Also read | Apple-1 original computer made by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak to be auctioned; details

While it is expected to work well with Microsoft’s own apps, the most notable thing—or drawback depending on how you see it—about Windows 11 SE is that it will not ship with the Windows Store. Third-party apps like Zoom and Chrome will be supported, Microsoft has confirmed, but the list isn’t very long at this point in time. It seems students can’t just install—sideload—any app on the fly either. Only their IT admins can. One of the reasons why Windows 10 S failed to shine was because of the lack of apps—despite having the Windows Store.

There are other changes. For instance, apps will be set to always open in full-screen in Windows 11 SE. Snap Layouts, that are a big productivity booster on Windows 11, have been removed, possibly for simplicity. The Widgets section in taskbar has been taken off completely, possibly for a distraction-free experience and Microsoft will also let you add Chrome extensions to the Edge browser signalling their importance especially in school environments—this isn’t available on Windows 11. Windows 11 SE will back up documents to OneDrive by default and include offline support as well.

Microsoft’s fresh attempt to compete with Chrome OS—and Chromebooks—comes at a time when demand for laptops and PCs is at an all-time high. Google has the early mover advantage but that’s not to say Microsoft’s vision lacks potential. Be that as it may, because its last few attempts to do something like this have been far from perfect, many critics will look at Windows 11 SE—and the Surface Laptop SE—with a pinch of pessimism. Hopefully, Microsoft will prove them wrong.

Get live Stock Prices from BSE, NSE, US Market and latest NAV, portfolio of Mutual Funds, Check out latest IPO News, Best Performing IPOs, calculate your tax by Income Tax Calculator, know market’s Top Gainers, Top Losers & Best Equity Funds. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Financial Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest Biz news and updates.

Next Stories
1Smart Factory: Smart solution for smart businesses
2Quantum SonoTrix 81 speaker: Modern-day jukebox on a tight budget
3U&i Shuffle 4: A smart neckband with 15-hour battery life