After failing to crack Chromebook's market share, Microsoft is seemingly taking the bat at the low-cost EDU market with a new lightened operating system and an affordable laptop.
The report comes from our sister-site Windows Central (opens in new tab). Reporter Zac Bowden claims that Microsoft is currently working on a new laptop aimed at the K-12 education market. Bundled with it will be Windows 11SE, an operating system made for low-cost computers. According to Bowden, the new laptop might sell under the Surface brand, possibly being called the Surface Laptop SE. There's no intel on what SE could stand for, but it could possibly be an abbreviation for Student Edition.
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The new laptop, codenamed Tenjin, will not be cutting edge by any means. Bowden's sources claim that this new laptop will sport an all-plastic body, a 1377x768 resolution, an Intel Celeron N4120 processor and up to 8GB of RAM. While this configuration is not major by today's standards, it does spec higher than all the Chromebooks found on our best laptops under $500 list. Granted, that could also be because Windows is a heavier operating system than Chrome OS. Even then, it may give teachers and students more headroom to work with over Chrome devices.
This is not the first time Microsoft has attempted to take on Google's dominance in the low-cost affordable laptop market. Windows RT was a brand of Windows 8 that ran on ARM processors. It was succeeded by Windows 10 S, which was phased out in March 2018. And then in 2020, Microsoft announced Windows 10X, which ultimately was cancelled. Many of the design elements of Windows 10X were integrated into Windows 11, however.
Either way, this new Microsoft device will need to be priced aggressively. Many Chromebooks by HP, Acer and Dell target the sub-$400 price. And once school districts lock in to a new set of machines, they try and use those machines for as long as possible before migrating over. Microsoft's pitch to the education market will need to be functionally robust and value-focused.