Windows 11 SE: Why it’s both more and less locked down than Windows 10 S

Managing computer systems for schooling is difficult, however Microsoft thinks it has an answer.

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Picture: Shutterstock/sirikorn thamniyom

Microsoft has lengthy thought of the way to tailor PCs for schooling, wanting to combine the pliability of the PC ecosystem with the management that faculties require. It is a advanced downside. Will we merely settle for the free-for-all that is Home windows normal function computing mannequin, or will we transfer to ChromeOS’s browser-based world the place holding every thing within the browser makes every thing simpler to lock down?

Home windows RT was one strategy, limiting what may very well be run to a managed view of the Home windows Retailer. That very same strategy carried over into the Home windows 10 world, with S mode, locking units all the way down to Retailer entry solely. However Microsoft is closing the Training and Enterprise variations of its Retailer, making that mannequin now not tenable. It additionally had pushback from schooling departments that have been used to creating their very own licensing offers for software program and instruments and so most well-liked to not purchase from a vendor’s personal retailer.

Right here comes a brand new Home windows for schooling

And so the wheel turns, and Microsoft is now launching a brand new, education-focused model of its newest Home windows, Home windows 11 SE, launching with a barely simplified consumer interface. Coming with the brand new low-cost Floor Laptop computer SE, it is a tightly managed model of the acquainted Home windows accessible solely to schooling prospects. That is as a result of it is solely accessible with Home windows 11 SE {hardware}, from Microsoft and {hardware} companions like Lenovo, that are supposed to be bought solely via schooling channels.

The SE would not stand for something; it is supposed purely to be a model identifier, like Dwelling or Professional. However the insurance policies related to it can actually make purchasers suppose it is a “Pupil Version.” Whereas there are not any precise restrictions on how Home windows 11 SE {hardware} is bought, it is branding that ought to let potential purchasers know that this is not a Home windows for dwelling or the workplace: That is just for the classroom.

SEE: Colleges may very well be ripe for cyberattacks amid ransomware open season (TechRepublic)

Run something…

In contrast to Home windows 10 S, there is not any restrict to what kinds of software packages are supported. The place Home windows 10 S would not be capable to run, say, the Win32 Zoom shopper, it is supported on Home windows 11 SE. It is a shift that places the Home windows schooling launch in step with
Microsoft’s new Home windows Retailer insurance policies

. Now you can run all kinds of packaged software program, even Java apps. In reality, the FAQs for the platform exit of their solution to word it installs Zoom.

That is the place the brand new flexibility is available in, loosening the restrictions on the kind of code that may be run. If it is supported in Home windows 11, it will run on Home windows 11 SE. Or it will if it had permission. And that is the place the brand new degree of lockdown is available in, giving system managers much more management over units than they used to have. The place Home windows 10 S may entry the final Home windows Retailer, downloading Appx and MSIX packages, Home windows 11 SE is proscribed to utilizing the browser or functions delivered by Home windows Intune for Training.

…that we are saying you may run

Accepted functions are restricted to a curated record in certainly one of six classes: content material filters, test-taking apps, accessibility instruments, classroom communications, administration and assist instruments, and browser. As well as, each Workplace and Minecraft’s schooling version are included with Home windows 11 SE. College IT departments can work with their gross sales channel to get new functions added to the record, with Microsoft taking requests for schooling software program to judge. If a faculty wants extra outdoors the curated app record, it will need to modify to Home windows 11 Professional Training, which removes a lot of the guardrails of Home windows 11 SE. That possibility might be most well-liked for greater grades, as Home windows 11 SE is really useful for Ok-8.

SEE: Home windows 11: Tips about set up, safety and extra (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Which means there is not any entry to the Home windows Retailer and no assist for standalone installers. If you would like the capabilities of a regular Home windows set up, you will must convey your individual Dwelling or Professional license in addition to set up media. When you improve there isn’t a method again to Home windows 11 SE.

Providing a tightly curated record of supported functions is sensible; faculties will need to preserve units beneath management and keep away from use of non-educational software program. If customers need to go outdoors the software program put in by a faculty, they will use a browser, profiting from the capabilities constructed into Edge, Firefox or Chrome.

Curation and administration

Customers can nonetheless entry companies like YouTube and Spotify; they only have to make use of them via their browser variations. With many widespread apps and companies providing browser-based choices, this could give most customers a Chromebook-like expertise. That might be what Microsoft is doing right here, utilizing Workplace and a set of curated apps to make Home windows 11 SE units a Chromebook+ possibility for faculties, the place conventional software program dietary supplements newer net choices. Microsoft describes it as a cloud-first working system.

Microsoft is having to stability on a tightrope right here. There’s clearly demand for low-cost units outdoors of schooling, however on the similar time, faculties want units they will management and handle. That is why it is making it very clear that Home windows 11 SE just isn’t for dwelling customers. With out an Intune for Training backend, and different trendy administration instruments like Home windows Autopilot, it should be just about ineffective.

Utilizing Intune for Training

On the coronary heart of Microsoft’s Home windows 11 SE technique is Intune for Training. Right here, lecturers and faculty IT workers can configure and handle units. In contrast to the Microsoft 365 Intune there is not any subscription required to make use of the Training launch: Licenses come bundled with Home windows 11 SE. You need to use Azure Lively Listing to handle customers, with assist for multi-factor authentication. There’s the choice to make use of Microsoft Accounts, although this is not really useful because it limits use to solely the built-in software program.

Taking a per-device strategy to administration is sensible right here, as faculties have restricted budgets. As a substitute of separating {hardware} and administration, every thing comes bundled with a $250 laptop computer. Colleges should buy {hardware} and know that it is robotically licensed to be used with the administration platform. All they should do is activate the laptop computer and register it with their tenant, earlier than provisioning customers and software program.

Discovering the stability

There is a wonderful stability to be navigated between open and locked down in Home windows 11 SE. Microsoft is aiming to have the perfect of each worlds, limiting the functions that may be put in to a curated record, whereas permitting each Win32 and UWP functions to work. Nonetheless, the main focus is clearly on net apps within the cloud, providing an alternative choice to Chromebooks, whereas augmenting the net expertise with a restricted variety of important Home windows functions. It’s going to be attention-grabbing to see how faculties reply to this strategy, and whether or not utilizing Intune for Training offers them the additional management they want above and past conventional Home windows installs.

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