Microsoft may not be finished with new Surface devices in 2021. A new Surface Laptop is rumored, with specifications that suggest Redmond is preparing to heavily target the eduction sector.
“According to my sources, this new laptop is codenamed Tenjin and features a fully plastic exterior, a 1366×768 11.6-inch display, an Intel Celeron N4120 and up to 8GB RAM. This is a no-frills laptop designed to be as low-cost as possible, built for student-use in a classroom environment.”
So, what’s going on here? It could be that the simplest answer is the right one. Microsoft has released the Surface Go 3 this year, and there are options that are tailored towards the lower end of the market with an Intel Pentium 6500Y version sporting 4GB of RAM and 64 GB of eMMC.
The Surface Go of course is based around the 2-in-1 form factor of the Surface Pro, which means the keyboard is an additional purchase.
Hold that though for a moment, because Microsoft does have the Surface Laptop Go, a cut down version of the workhorse Surface Laptop. The current Laptop Go was launched 12 months ago, and the lowest specification comes with Intel’s Core i5-1035G1.
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That leaves an obvious gap at the low end of the laptop market for a low-cost educational machine running a Celeron processor. And while many will think that this is going to be a touch underpowered for a full version of Windows 11, the discussions alongside this K-12 laptop suggest a stripped back version of Windows 11 (presumptively named Windows 11 SE) that will complement the hardware… an approach that Microsoft has looked at before with Windows 10 S.
Why would Microsoft want to get in on the K-12 market, with a low-cost laptop, running a stripped back version of Windows? Because Google is already there with its Chromebook and the Chromebook from its partners.
If Microsoft can prove there’s a market for a new design – something the Surface brand has historically been able to achieve – you should expect the current Chromebook manufactures to start offering similar hardware running Windows 11 SE in the future.