Surface Laptop SE price delivers a true Chromebook alternative with Windows 11 SE

Microsoft just revealed Windows 11 SE made for education hardware alongside an ultra-inexpensive Surface notebook for schools. The Microsoft Surface SE is the first Surface-brand notebook ever made specifically for K-8 students. It'll be launched for a price of $249, and it comes jammed full of Microsoft 365 applications and support for 3rd-party apps like Zoom and Chrome.

Windows 11 SE

If we're diving in to Windows 11 SE without any knowledge about the operating system, the idea that it supports 3rd-party apps might seem strange. Windows 11 SE is an operating system aimed at students, created "based on feedback from teachers." Notebooks with Windows 11 SE are restricted in ways that allow a "distraction-free environment" for students.

This is Microsoft's most major play for the education market in recent memory. Over the past half-decade, Google's Chrome OS and Chromebooks have been making massive waves in education, especially as students of all ages start to use computers for everyday work – and we dropped in to the remote work and learning reality of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now Microsoft's effectively accepted the reality of the situation and has announced Windows 11 SE, a version of Windows 11 that will allow teachers and school IT admins to use computers as a tool to assist in the education process.

As Chrome OS has an assumed Google apps angle to it, so does Windows 11 SE come with the implication that Microsoft apps will be central to the experience. Windows 11 SE has "been optimized for the most used education experiences," said a Microsoft representative, "including Microsoft 365 applications."

It is important to note, though, that Microsoft makes clear that they're not restricting the use of non-Microsoft apps, they're just making certain there is some level of control. They've mentioned Zoom and Chrome (the web browser) specifically as apps that will also be supported by Windows 11 SE.

Surface Laptop SE

The first device that'll run Windows 11 SE is the Microsoft Surface Laptop SE. This notebook is the "most affordable Surface PC ever" with a starting price of approximately $250 USD.

This device has an 11.6-inch TFT LCD display with 1366 x 768 pixel resolution (138 PPI). This device has either 4GB or 8GB DDR4 RAM, and either the Intel Celeron N4020 or N4120 processor and Intel UHD Graphics 600. The battery in this machine provides what Microsoft describes as "up to" 16 hours of battery life.

This laptop has a 1MP front-facing camera with the ability to capture 720p video at 30fps. The Surface Laptop SE has 2W stereo speakers and a single digital microphone.

For IT professionals, the most important bit about the Surface Laptop SE is the repairability of the hardware. Microsoft suggested that the display, keyboard, battery, and motherboard will be "easily repairable components" in this machine. The next-most affordable Surface machine at the moment is the Surface Go 3, with a price of approximately $450 USD.

The Surface Laptop SE will have a release date in early 2022. At the moment this laptop can be seen in the Microsoft Store with a note suggesting it'll be available starting next year.