Microsoft launches Chromebook rival with specialised software for schools

The low-cost devices will come with Windows 11 SE, set up to take on Google’s Chrome OS

Adam Smith
Thursday 20 January 2022 10:11

Microsoft’s rival to Google’s Chromebooks is finally available for schools and students.

In November the software giant announced Windows 11 SE, a version of its operating system that is designed specifically for classrooms. It said it would be available on low-cost devices, and is optimized for Edge, Microsoft Office, and the company’s other cloud-based tools like OneDrive.

Users will not be able to download applications from the Windows Store because it is not available on the machine; instead, the computers have an authorized selection of apps that can be installed on it – such as Zoom and Google Chrome.

The operating system has also been simplified so that apps can only run fullscreen, and Snap Layouts only load side-by-side. Widgets have also been removed, as Microsoft found it would be a distracting element in a classroom.

Those low-cost devices, meanwhile, include the Surface Laptop SE priced at $249 in the US and £229 in the UK. There are also a number of other laptops from Acer, Asus, Dell, and HP too.

These will only be available for schools to purchase through authorised resellers. IT administrators can manage the downloads, deployment ,and security settings of the device – ensuring that they only update outside of school hours, for instance.

Microsoft hopes that these efforts will help it compete with Chromebooks and Chrome OS, Google’s laptop software that has proved a hit with schools because of inexpensive devices and online, free software such as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

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