A few weeks ago, there were rumors of the upcoming premiere of Windows 11 SE, designed to revive the market of cheap laptops fighting Chromebooks. As it turns out, Microsoft went a step further and together with the system offered a very cheap device from the Surface family.
We already know exactly what this system is all about … it’s even weirder than its 10S-style predecessors. Windows 11 SE is to have a simplified interface and some functions and settings are blocked. For example, from the great snapping of windows to the corners and edges of the screen, only active edges on both sides are left. Most of the applications are supposed to work full-screen.
Contrary to the recent castrats (where it was forced), 11 SE was denied access to the Microsoft Store. But … contrary to appearances, access to the application has now become even more difficult and limited. To install external software, you need to use a dedicated administration tool, but even there you will face significant limitations.
You will not install any Win32 / x86 application that does not belong to the following group:
- content search
- conducting tests
- facilitate access
- communication in the classroom
- diagnostic and management tools
Forget about games, unblessed utilities, the only exception will be PWA applications used in browsers. So it looks like you can mostly use what’s pre-installed, which is mostly Office and Teams. I have not found any information as to whether software developers may try to gain “entry” to this platform for their applications. There will probably be a procedure, a question whether there will be any requirements for software optimization for very inefficient laptops, which are the “base” for the entire system.
The purchase of such a closed device, where the iPad is an open platform, privately does not make sense and Microsoft probably knows it, because it is not offered on the “civil” market at the moment. Whether it can appeal to schools, I have considerable doubts about it. The capabilities of this ecosystem, whether compared to the base and not much more expensive iPad, or Chromebooks already established in this market, will be simply very poor, especially due to the hardware base and limitations.
This time Microsoft decided not to leave the production of equipment for schools only to its partners and launched its own computer, Surface Laptop SE. It can be purchased for $ 249. Sensational price, performance, if you believe people who saw it live, is very good, but the specification … leaves a lot to be desired.
Let’s start with the positives, the computer has a solid plastic housing. The keyboard, trackpad, webcam, speakers, and microphones, reportedly borrowed from more expensive cousins, are to be of very good quality. The battery is to offer 16 hours of work without a plug, and the entire laptop weighs 1.1 kg.
Throughout the rest of the specification, you can clearly see the price shelf it comes from:
- 11.6-inch TFT screen with a resolution of 1366 x 768 px
- 2-core Celeron N4020, 1.1Ghz; TB 2.8 Ghz; 14 nm
- Intel UHD Graphics 600
- 4 GB RAM DDR4
- 64 GB eMMC disk
- 1x USB-C, 1x USB-A, headphone jack, power jack
- WiFi 5, BT 5.0 LE
For an additional fee, the computer can be equipped with:
- 4-core Celeron N4120, 1.1Ghz; TB 2.6 Ghz; 14 nm
- 8 GB RAM DDR4
- 128 GB eMMC disk
The processors used in this design come from the Intel Gemini Lake family and were introduced to the market in 2019. Looking at the specification, it is clear that even if someone manages to break the limits imposed by Microsoft, after installing something unoptimized for these machines, the whole thing will work as it used to be the infamous notebooks (that is, almost none at all).
In my opinion, the device and system proposed by Microsoft do not make any sense, even for schools. For a little more money, you can get a basic iPad, which is sky faster, with dozens of high-quality educational applications, AR capabilities very useful in learning, and being a piece of universal equipment for almost any occasion.
Surface Laptop SE is actually a slow terminal for Office and Teams, and some primitive, whether you like it or not, programs that Microsoft will graciously allow you to share. It is known for certain that even in the future it will not be possible to write applications for it using newer AR / VR technologies, it will be difficult to run some more demanding software on it, technically it consists of practically only “bottlenecks”.
Why, with such limitations of the system, Microsoft did not base this platform on much more efficient, and certainly not amortized in terms of production, ARM SQ1 processors? The device would have more possibilities, the possible success could persuade developers to rewrite the application to ARM, also for full-fledged Windows with ARM, and the price of its own SoC processor would not be much more expensive (see iPad and its A13). Here, in order for a given program to work on such weak hardware anyway, programming optimization will be needed, and the reward for such effort will probably not be great.