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.