Microsoft has been losing market share in the education space to cheap Chromebooks for years, but according to a new report from Windows Central, the company may have a new strategy for competing in the K-12 education space.

Microsoft is allegedly developing a low-cost Surface laptop with the kind of specs you’d expect from a low-cost Chromebook, but instead of Google’s Chrome OS, this laptop would run an education-optimized version of Windows called Windows 11 SE.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go

Windows Central’s Zac Bowden reports that the laptop is code-named Tenjin, and its features include:

  • 11.6 inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display
  • Intel Celeron N4120 processor
  • Up to 8GB of RAM
  • USB-A, USB-C, headphone, and AC power ports
  • Plastic chassis

The low-res display and 6-watt, quad-core processor based on Intel Gemini Lake Refresh architecture are pretty much par for the course with cheap Chromebooks, while support for up to 8GB of RAM is a little more rare (but also possibly a little more necessary on a device running Windows).

All of that would seem to point to a laptop that will likely sell for under $400, making it smaller and cheaper than the $550 Surface Laptop Go, which is currently Microsoft’s lowest-cost laptop.

But the rumored model, which could be called something like the Surface Laptop SE, would also likely have limited appeal outside the education market, since it’s expected to ship with a version of Windows 11 that’s optimized for low-end hardware and for use in classroom settings.

This wouldn’t be Microsoft’s first attempt to take a more Chromebook-like approach to Windows. Windows RT, Windows in S Mode, and the discontinued project that would have been called Windows 10 X were all efforts to launch a simplified, secure, and locked-down version of Windows that would take a bit of the same less-is-more approach that Google used when developing Chrome OS.

Maybe this time it’ll stick?

Keep in mind that Microsoft hasn’t officially announced anything yet, so there’s a chance that Bowden’s sources are incorrect (although he’s usually pretty diligent about checking these things). It’s also possible that the leaked information is accurate… for now. But Microsoft’s plans could change, which means we don’t know if Tenjin will ever actually see the light of day.

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  1. Windows 11 SE is the latest reincarnation of Windows 10 S Mode. It’s a locked down system with barely enough hardware to run Windows. At least the specs have a minimum 64gb of storage, compared to 32gb with Windows 10 S Mode. You’ll need the extra storage space the first time you run Windows Update. The entry price of $400 is twice as much as most entry Chromebooks. Windows 11 SE is not for me. By the way, maybe Apple should use them for using the SE trademark already used by the iPhone SE.

    1. There’s generally limits on how short of a thing you want to trademark can be, and I’m pretty sure two letters is too short to trademark. SE is a trim level on a Toyota Camry for example. Apple could most likely only trademark the whole “iPhone SE”.

  2. “Cheap Surface Laptop with 11.6 inch screen and Windows 11 SE could be Microsoft’s answer to Chromebooks”?
    That would be a “nope”. The answer will always be “no” unless Microsoft does the hard work of creating a version of Windows with all of the enterprise-level functionality stripped out. But that requires a ton of effort with little financial benefit.

  3. Whatever happened to Windows on Arm?
    This thing would be the perfect candidate for the Qualcomm 7c but no, they go and shove a Celeron in there. The CPU who doesn’t want to die.

    1. I have an Asus Vivobook L203MA, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage with an N4020 Celeron running Win10. It is perfectly adequate for a chromebook-level device.