Microsoft on Tuesday introduced Windows 11 SE, its new education-focused and cloud-first operating system, purpose-built to support the K-8 classroom (ages 5-6 up to age 14).
According to Microsoft, Windows 11 SE is an affordable and simple way to help make learning accessible to every student.
It has been built for teachers who need a simple, distraction-free environment for their students and for school IT admins who need devices that are secure, easy to deploy and manage, and perform well all day across the changing conditions of a school year.
“The past 18+ months have fundamentally changed the education landscape. Schools are relying on technology in unprecedented ways, shining a light on the fact that solutions that were once “good enough” for learning, no longer meet the bar,” Paige Johnson, Vice President, Microsoft Education wrote in a blog post.
“This moment presents a unique opportunity to reimagine how we can use technology to empower educators and unlock new possibilities for all learners. For example, insights and tools can reduce administrative tasks so teachers can focus on what’s most important: helping their students learn. This is not about giving every kid a laptop. This is about giving each child an opportunity for a great education—one that leads to success in career and in life.”
Windows 11 SE has been optimized for the most used education experiences, including Microsoft 365 applications, supporting both online and offline capabilities. The company highlighted that more than 16 million K-12 public school students don’t have persistent internet access outside of school in the U.S.
Hence, it has designed the Microsoft Office apps including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, and OneDrive in a way such that it can be used offline on Windows 11 SE devices as part of a Microsoft 365 license.
OneDrive stores files locally, on each device, for students to access when they are offline. Once students are back at school with internet access, Windows 11 SE will sync the offline changes automatically.
Further, Windows 11 SE also comes with broad support for web-based learning apps. With Microsoft Edge, the most popular extensions and other web-based tools work great. Microsoft Edge also brings built-in tools like Immersive Reader right to the browser, making internet content accessible to more students. In addition, it supports third-party apps including Zoom and Chrome.
For IT admins, Windows Autopilot provides zero-touch device deployment, while Intune for Education provides a simple and secure cloud management solution allowing the IT admin to deploy and manage Windows 11 SE devices from anywhere.
Intune for Education also allows IT admins to deliver the right apps and policies securely to every student device. To help ensure the device and students stay secure, only IT admins can download and install apps and services directly to the device, Microsoft says.
Microsoft’s education-focused Surface Laptop SE running Windows 11 SE is the company’s new and most affordable Surface PC starting at $249. It’s the first Surface specifically made for K-8 students, with an 11.6” screen, battery life of up to 16 hours, front-facing 720p HD camera and stereo speakers.
The new Surface laptop will be joined by other devices coming from Acer, ASUS, Dell, Dynabook, Fujitsu, HP, JP-IK, Lenovo, and Positivo — powered by Intel and AMD. Majority of these devices are expected to be available for ordering through education channels later this year and into 2022.