Skip to main content

What We Know About Windows 11 SE

Windows 11
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Windows 11 SE is reportedly a new flavor of Windows 11 that Microsoft has been developing. Its first real mention showed up with the rumor of a new budget-friendly Surface laptop designed for education earlier today. Not much is known about the latest version of Windows; however, leaked builds of SE were shared across the internet months prior to Windows 11's release, giving us a better idea of SE's capabilities and purpose.

Current projections suggest a 2022 release date for Windows 11 SE alongside the new education-focused Surface laptop. We know that Windows 11 SE will be targeted specifically toward the education market (particularly for children). It will run on low-end hardware usually present on school laptops and will feature specific educational features for remote control of school laptops.

This means you probably won't be buying this version of Windows 11 from retail stores, and even if you could get it, you probably wouldn't want to install it on anything other than a school machine.

We don't know yet what features are getting cut from Windows 11 and how locked down the operating system will be. However, according to a post by Windows Latest several months ago, it appears SE will be very locked down out of the box. The early build had the following items disabled:

  • Disables News and Interests (Windows Widgets)
  • Full Win32 app support (S Mode is disabled)
  • Microsoft Store is blocked by default
  • Settings app adverts for Edge/Bing were removed and Your Phone integration no longer works

These changes make a lot of sense in light of the target market for the OS, though some of them could be due to the unfinished state of the leaked update. In addition, disabling the store and widgets will keep the systems locked down specifically for school tasks and ensure any additional apps installed are through the discretion of the school's IT management. 

Thankfully, SE will not be locked down to UWP apps in S Mode and will feature full Win32 support like a regular PC. This will be optimal for schools that use software not coded for Microsoft's UWP (Store apps) and could give SE a competitive edge against Chromebooks that are locked down to web-based and Android apps only.

These changes also confirm that SE is not a replacement for Windows 11 Education Edition, another flavor of Windows optimized for schools. Education Edition is a more advanced variant of Windows that takes most of its identity from the Pro version of Windows. With Education, you get Pro's full CPU core, socket, and physical memory compatibility. It also has hardware device encryption and features exclusive to Education, such as BranchCache and AppLocker.

Keep in mind that Windows 11 SE is still not out yet, so any of these changes are subject to change before an official launch. We should learn more in the coming months.

  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    "It will run on low-end hardware usually present on school laptops"

    I'd like to see how they are able to trim down the big bloat of the Windows kernel to run DECENTLY on a friggen CELERON N4120.

    Sorry, education laptops (targeted at the K-12 market) just need to run Office and browse the internet, they don't need x86 compatibility, and for that compatibility you have to sacrifice a lot in that price area.
    Reply
  • 10tacle
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    Sorry, education laptops (targeted at the K-12 market) just need to run Office and browse the internet, they don't need x86 compatibility, and for that compatibility you have to sacrifice a lot in that price area.

    As a whole, that's a fact. However it also depends on the student and applications. My 14 year old nephew in middle school has signed up for a media club where they create and edit videos. He wants to get into online streaming video production. A basic Chromebook will not run their required Adobe Premiere Pro for video editing, so his parents had to buy him a decent desktop replacement laptop.

    I'd also like to know how MS is going to handle the "NO INTEL CPUs OLDER THAN GEN 8 FOR WINDOWS 11!!!!" mandate when many schools out there, especially of lower income/taxpayer areas, are getting donations graced from old refurbs by corporations. The company I used work for as an example has donated hundreds of HP EliteDesk i5 6th generation based micro desktops to schools and small colleges. And yes, I know there's a manual option to turn on TPM with 7th-gen Intel chips.

    So are we going to see Microsoft's draconian TPM 2.0 rule be waved for Windows 11 SE? I can't wait to see how this plays out as I have older Intel chipset hardware starting with one referenced in my hardware sig (gee I've never been hacked going all the way back to the Pentium II days online - then again I've always run AV/security software and not been stupid in clicking something I don't recognize). All that said, I started building computers around the time the last "SE" tag was on a Windows version, Windows 98 SE - not a cut down version of it either.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    10tacle said:
    As a whole, that's a fact. However it also depends on the student and applications. My 14 year old nephew in middle school has signed up for a media club where they create and edit videos. He wants to get into online streaming video production. A basic Chromebook will not run their required Adobe Premiere Pro for video editing, so his parents had to buy him a decent desktop replacement laptop.

    But how well do you think Adobe Premiere Pro would run on a 6w 14nm Celeron N4120 with a 1.1ghz base and 2.6ghz "burst" frequency? Not well.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    But how well do you think Adobe Premiere Pro would run on a 6w 14nm Celeron N4120 with a 1.1ghz base and 2.6ghz "burst" frequency? Not well.
    What does Premier Pro have to do with anything?
    Similarly, I wouldn't run AutoCad on such a system, or manage a billion row SQL database.

    I have a little Asus Transformer. Atom N8350 processor, 4GB RAM.
    It does what it needs to do. Runs Word, Excel, Chrome or FF, movies via VLC...

    Not every system needs to be an uber box that can run everything on the planet.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    USAFRet said:
    What does Premier Pro have to do with anything?
    Similarly, I wouldn't run AutoCad on such a system, or manage a billion row SQL database.

    I have a little Asus Transformer. Atom N8350 processor, 4GB RAM.
    It does what it needs to do. Runs Word, Excel, Chrome or FF, movies via VLC...

    Not every system needs to be an uber box that can run everything on the planet.

    Read 10tacle's post.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    Read 10tacle's post.
    Yes, I did.

    And Premier Pro, or any other large application is not suited for a low end system. Or a Chromebook.
    That does not mean low end systems are useless.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    USAFRet said:
    Yes, I did.

    And Premier Pro, or any other large application is not suited for a low end system. Or a Chromebook.
    That does not mean low end systems are useless.

    Which is why in my first post I stated:

    Sorry, education laptops (targeted at the K-12 market) just need to run Office and browse the internet, they don't need x86 compatibility, and for that compatibility you have to sacrifice a lot in that price area.

    10tacle brought up Adobe Premiere Pro not running on a Chromebook, therefore requiring x86 compatibility and a desktop quality laptop, in the second post, and I referenced Microsoft's upcoming flagship Windows 11 SE Surface product featuring a very slow Celeron processor in the third post to bring home the point that the Windows 11 SE market doesn't exist as the Windows kernel and x86 applications, aside from basic office programs, and even those have become very resource intensive, especially on the HDD, are far too heavy to run effectively on the very low end hardware that Microsoft is targeting with Windows 11 SE in the likely $400 area market. We run into the same problem as when OEMs put Vista on computers barely able to run XP.

    And when they can pay a quarter to half as much for a Chromebook, or even an Android tablet with a keyboard case or bluetooth keyboard, and use Google office programs (or Microsoft Office if they ever make a compatible version) which accomplishes the same task, what's the selling point in the Windows 11SE sub $400 market outside schools which must use specific x86 programs, especially when you consider that there will be multiple models with varying capacities of RAM and storage space? Remember as it will be educational institutions buying these, not the general public, cost is an incredibly important factor.

    And as an owner of a Surface Pro 3 with the i7-4650u, which effectively has the same performance as the N4120 per Passmark, it's painfully slow, even with Office 365 tasks even with a much faster storage system than the Windows 11 SE Surface product will have.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    And I'm still a bit befuddled as to the statement of Premier Pro won't run on a low end device.
    We know and expect that. So what?

    Low end Chromebooks have their place.
    Low end Windows systems have their place.

    My 3 year old Transformer runs Word/Excel 2019 just fine.
    I wouldn't write a 400 page novel on it, or open one of the big spreadsheets from work.
    But for small stuff, its OK.
    Reply