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posted by janrinok on Friday November 12 2021, @11:33AM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

Microsoft is taking the fight to Chromebooks in schools with the $250 Surface Laptop SE, but inexpensive hardware is only part of the equation. One reason Chromebooks have succeeded in education is because of Chrome OS, which is well-suited for lower-end hardware, easy for IT administrators to manage, and hard to break with errant apps or malware.

Microsoft's answer to Chrome OS is Windows 11 SE. Unlike past efforts like Windows in S mode (which is still its own separate thing), Windows 11 SE isn't just a regular version of Windows with a cheaper license or a cut-down version that runs fewer apps. Windows 11 SE defaults to saving all files (including user profile information) to students' OneDrive accounts, and it has had some standard Windows 11 features removed to ensure a "distraction-free" learning environment that performs better on low-end devices. The operating system also gives IT administrators exclusive control over the apps and browser extensions that can be installed and run via Microsoft Intune.

If you're a school IT administrator with a fleet of PC laptops or desktops, you might wonder if you can buy and install Windows 11 SE on hardware you already have so you can benefit from its changes without buying new hardware. The answer, Microsoft tells us, is no. The only way to get Windows 11 SE is on laptops that ship with Windows 11 SE. And if you re-image a Windows 11 SE device with a different version of Windows 10 or Windows 11, it won't even be possible to reinstall Windows 11 SE after that.

[...] Microsoft has published documentation (PDF) that more fully explains the differences between Windows 11 SE and the other editions of Windows (including Windows in S mode).


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by turgid on Friday November 12 2021, @12:41PM (5 children)

    by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 12 2021, @12:41PM (#1195609) Journal

    Microsoft's new mission statement: "We don't want your business."

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by DannyB on Friday November 12 2021, @04:14PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 12 2021, @04:14PM (#1195647) Journal

      Microsoft's plan: You can't reinstall, you need to get a new computer.

      --
      Difference between inlaws and outlaws: outlaws are wanted.
    • (Score: 2) by Marand on Friday November 12 2021, @08:35PM (3 children)

      by Marand (1081) on Friday November 12 2021, @08:35PM (#1195745) Journal

      Hey, it's better than the alternative. When I saw the headline while skimming through, I first thought it said "Can't be removed once installed" which is the kind of behaviour one historically expects from Microsoft. Sounds like they only want to see Windows 11 SE used on school-managed notebooks and nowhere else, and they're taking steps to keep it that way. They probably figure that letting other people install it would lead to morons trying to use it instead of the real thing and then eating up support time/budget trying to get help running normal software.

      I'm more interested in the technical details than the reasoning or whether it's a good idea or not, though. Are they just not providing images to the public, or is there some kind of technical barrier they'll be implementing to prevent installation even if images leak? Could someone dump the drive contents and create their own installable image, or are they going the full disk encryption route like ChromeOS to prevent tampering and the like?

      I'm somewhat curious, but not enough to go digging for the info myself since knowing doesn't really benefit me at all beyond satisfying idle curiosity.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by sjames on Friday November 12 2021, @08:56PM (2 children)

        by sjames (2882) on Friday November 12 2021, @08:56PM (#1195752) Journal

        The problem is, these things are intended for SCHOOLS and if the factory install gets hosed or blown away (maliciously or accidentally) by a student there is no way back. The device is essentially no longer fit for the school's use and cannot be reimaged.

        This in contrast to chromebook or Apple products where it's dead simple to return the device to factory defaults.

        If any schools actually fall for this, I would advise working out installing Linux on them because there will probably be a firesale on the hardware with borked OS images in the near future.

        • (Score: 2) by Marand on Friday November 12 2021, @10:37PM (1 child)

          by Marand (1081) on Friday November 12 2021, @10:37PM (#1195769) Journal

          The problem is, these things are intended for SCHOOLS and if the factory install gets hosed or blown away (maliciously or accidentally) by a student there is no way back. The device is essentially no longer fit for the school's use and cannot be reimaged.

          That's making a huge assumption: that the devices won't be locked down and keep some kind of baseline image for recovery.

          The quote from the article says:

          if you re-image a Windows 11 SE device with a different version of Windows 10 or Windows 11, it won't even be possible to reinstall Windows 11 SE after that.

          which to me implies that it's going to behave like a Chromebook with the usual kinds of protections, but if you decide to completely re-image the disk and wipe all of that out, you'll have no way to download 11SE to fix your mistake. That's reasonable enough, and is in line with how ChromeOS works: if you fuck up your install (or an update breaks) you can always reset it because it keeps two copies of itself at all times (current and previous), and it's locked down in a way that prevents changing that without some serious effort. And if it's a managed chromebook it's even more locked down, so you won't be doing that at all. But if you take your personal Chromebook and completely wipe out the partition table to start fresh, well, you're on your own because nobody provides ChromeOS images for their hardware. It sucks from a user freedom standpoint, but it's the status quo for these kinds of devices and use cases, because they're for situations where someone doesn't want a general-purpose, open system.

          It's fun to hate on MS for being MS, but it doesn't seem any more likely that these devices will become unsuitable, unusable bricks any more than ChromeOS already does. Microsoft is just copying Google here in a desperate attempt to not hemorrhage users long-term due to kids never encountering Windows and growing up solely using alternatives.

          • (Score: 2) by sjames on Friday November 12 2021, @11:50PM

            by sjames (2882) on Friday November 12 2021, @11:50PM (#1195795) Journal

            First item [google.com] in a google search is how to download a ChromeOS recovery image, put it on a USB and restore a totally wiped out Chromebook.

            On an iMac, if the recovery partition is hosed, start it with shift-command-r held down and it will find a network connection and download a new copy.

            So no, The new Win 11SE is uniquely unrecoverable.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by echostorm on Friday November 12 2021, @01:15PM (2 children)

    by echostorm (210) on Friday November 12 2021, @01:15PM (#1195613)

    So I gotta buy it to find out whats in it? what a dumb way to market your new product.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Friday November 12 2021, @04:15PM (1 child)

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 12 2021, @04:15PM (#1195648) Journal

      How is that not different from how a EULA works.

      Outside of box says: by opening this box, you accept the EULA that will be displayed when setting up this computer.

      --
      Difference between inlaws and outlaws: outlaws are wanted.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12 2021, @05:17PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12 2021, @05:17PM (#1195670)

        Because those EULA's don't work. They are pure FUD. There has never been a case where a shrink-wrapped EULA held up in court. Mostly because the companies that use them know they won't and take care to settle or drop every case.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12 2021, @01:28PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12 2021, @01:28PM (#1195616)

    hey, wait what? there's a guy at school who will sharpen my pencils for me? who-da-thunk...

  • (Score: 4, Touché) by isostatic on Friday November 12 2021, @01:30PM (5 children)

    by isostatic (365) on Friday November 12 2021, @01:30PM (#1195617) Journal

    some standard Windows 11 features removed to ensure a "distraction-free" learning environment

    They remove the adverts? Cool.

    (I believe windows has adverts now as a 'feature'. I don't know, it didn't back in the Windows 98 OEM2 days, which was the last windows I installed)

    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12 2021, @02:34PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12 2021, @02:34PM (#1195626)

      Dude, it's a "learning experience" now. You're not dicking around on minesweeper, you're having an experience.

      • (Score: 2) by Dr Spin on Friday November 12 2021, @07:38PM

        by Dr Spin (5239) on Friday November 12 2021, @07:38PM (#1195733)

        you're having an experience.

        And nothing in or near the word "experience" should be taken to imply it is a good one.

        --
        Warning: Opening your mouth may invalidate your brain!
    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12 2021, @03:22PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12 2021, @03:22PM (#1195637)

      > ...Windows 98 OEM2 ...

      I remember Windows 98 SE. At that time I thought it was "Second Edition"? It was one of the better versions, used it for years (skipping the unloved ME version).

      But now SE seems to be "School Edition". Is MS so hard up that they have to re-purpose old acronyms? Can't afford to file trademark paperwork on a new set of letters??

      • (Score: 2) by Dr Spin on Friday November 12 2021, @07:42PM

        by Dr Spin (5239) on Friday November 12 2021, @07:42PM (#1195737)

        I am pretty sure that most school kids will quickly realise it is the "Sh*te Edition".

        --
        Warning: Opening your mouth may invalidate your brain!
    • (Score: 2) by choose another one on Friday November 12 2021, @06:07PM

      by choose another one (515) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 12 2021, @06:07PM (#1195694)

      Sat using Windows 10 right now, no ads AFAICS, never have been (or I have never noticed).

      On the other hand, every other bloody website (i.e. apart from this one) is covered and crippled with ads, unless I run a blocker - and that is the case on Linux too.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by SomeGuy on Friday November 12 2021, @04:10PM (5 children)

    by SomeGuy (5632) on Friday November 12 2021, @04:10PM (#1195646)

    Microsoft has totally lost it.

    First they jack up the FAKE hardware requirements on Windows 11 and then they have the audacity to try and market to the low end-chomebook... but only if you buy new hardware.

    "distraction-free" as a special feature? I guess everyone has forgotten that it used to be OSes would not mutate and change every day, bury you in alerts, restart for updates the moment you need to get something done instantly, spy on you, or send everything back to Microsoft. Most of that should be ILLEGAL.

    "defaults to saving all files (including user profile information) to students' OneDrive accounts." because sending your information to Microsoft is such a good idea? Sure, teach children to be good little consumertard cattle so they can grow up to be batteries that power advertisers.

    And of course, won't let you re-install or re-image? I guess you can't even restore from backups? That is beyond stupid. Probably designed to make people throw them away and buy new ones quickly. You see that large yellow tint that is covering the planet? That is Microsoft pissing on the environment.

    Fuckers.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12 2021, @04:32PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12 2021, @04:32PM (#1195651)

      NOT USING MICROSOFT WILL CAUSE CHILDREN PAIN TERRIBLE PAIN THE WORKPLACE USES MICROSOFT SO CHILDREN MUST BE INTRODUCED TO MICROSOFT OR THEY'LL BE AT AN EMPLOYMENT DISADVANTAGE. EVERYONE USES MICROSOFT. LINUX IS ALL PIRATED SOFTWARE MACINTOSH IS THE TOY IPHONE OPERATING SYSTEM AND CREATES UNEMPLOYMENT

      MS know exactly what they're doing, and they know what they can get away with. Like that have for ~30 years.

      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by DannyB on Friday November 12 2021, @05:00PM (1 child)

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 12 2021, @05:00PM (#1195662) Journal

        Like that have for ~30 years.

        40 years.

        This really started about 40 years ago with the original IBM PC.

        IBM believed all the profit was in the hardware, and the software was just a mere necessity to make the hardware useful.

        Bill Gates understood (as did others also) that the Software is the real profit center once you have standard cross vendor hardware. An idea completely foreign to IBM's thinking. Competition? What competition?

        Bill Gates shrewdly asked and got IBM to agree to letting Microsoft rebrand PC DOS as MS DOS and sell it independently. I'm sure IBM couldn't see any possible harm in that. After all it is only IBM who makes the IBM PC. Apple, Tandy and other computer makers' computers won't be compatible with MS-DOS.

        Interesting thing though. The IBM PC was made out of off the shelf parts. Nothing custom. Easy to clone -- other than creating your own BIOS that just happens to have the same entry points for the same functions.

        Once PC clones were born. There was a market for MS-DOS.

        Now here is where Microsoft first turns evil. Hey, Mr PC Clone maker, if you want a license for MS-DOS, you have to pay for a copy of MS-DOS for EVERY computer you sell -- whether or not that computer comes with MS-DOS or not.

        What this did is make it impossible for other OSes (and there were some) to compete with MS-DOS. The customer still had to pay for MS-DOS even if they didn't want it and wanted a Brand X operating system.

        --
        Difference between inlaws and outlaws: outlaws are wanted.
        • (Score: 4, Informative) by PinkyGigglebrain on Saturday November 13 2021, @02:31AM

          by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Saturday November 13 2021, @02:31AM (#1195830)

          Not quite.

          PC-DOS [wikipedia.org] was originally created by Seattle Computer Products as CP/M and then licensed to IBM with Microsoft's help it became PC-DOS. Microsoft later puchased CP/M outright and modified it to create MS-DOS which was licensed to IBM as PC-DOS for bundled sale with the IBM PC but also sold as it's own product for the clones that were already popping up. At the time there were actually dozens of versions of 808x disk operating systems available.

          more info at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_PC_DOS [wikipedia.org]

          IBM's big blunder here was thinking that the hardware was more important than the software and not enforcing their ownership of the PC related IP thinking along the lines of "no one will by a cheap knockoff, they will only want an IBM product". As they found out painfully later with the failure of the IBM PCJr and PS1/2 brands with IBM only proprietary hardware people didn't care of IBM, they just wanted an affordable computer that did what they wanted it to do.

          Microsoft went on to become the behemoth we all know and loathe/love today while IBM has manged to at least keep their name alive with their mainframes.

          --
          "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
    • (Score: 2) by Rich on Friday November 12 2021, @05:39PM (1 child)

      by Rich (945) on Friday November 12 2021, @05:39PM (#1195682) Journal

      Microsoft has totally lost it.

      Not according to the finance markets. Microsoft's market cap just overtook Apple.

      Pathetic, but that says as much about the degeneration of the western populations as it says about the usual greed of any megacorp.

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by choose another one on Friday November 12 2021, @06:28PM

        by choose another one (515) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 12 2021, @06:28PM (#1195707)

        > Not according to the finance markets. Microsoft's market cap just overtook Apple.

        Also worth noting that most of the value is now outside of Windows the OS. I remember when Google was being touted as the new cloud provider to maybe come second to AWS, and the laughter from many quarters when MS started a cloud (I mean what did MS know about big datacentres FFS?). Look where Azure is now (and a lot of it ain't running Windows). As well as the continuing strength of Office on the client side, over the last decade or so MS has created (or in many cases, bought) a huge server/services application portfolio upscaling the DB (SQL Server) to be a serious competitor to Oracle &co., Sharepoint, Dynamics/CRM, BI tools, Teams, etc. Those are all big ticket items if implemented at scale, and they do all scale now.

        Windows OS? - meh. I wouldn't be surprised if internally "Windows" was the last place MS staffers want to work these days. It's on the way out.

        The future is WSL - look how they named it: "Windows Subsystem for Linux", right now it gives you Linux hosted by Windows, in future it'll be Windows (Win32 / userspace) hosted on Linux, won't even need a name change.

        I reckon Windows, at least on client machines, has 10yrs left now.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by ElizabethGreene on Friday November 12 2021, @04:54PM (3 children)

    by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Friday November 12 2021, @04:54PM (#1195658)

    If you re-image a Windows 11 SE device with a different version of Windows 10 or Windows 11, it won't even be possible to reinstall Windows 11 SE after that.

    I'm deeply skeptical of this; Surely the OE will ship the equivalent of a restore disc. The Surface SE specifically touts its repairability so that would be a thing.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12 2021, @06:55PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12 2021, @06:55PM (#1195720)

      It also seems designed to function like a school chromebook - each machine is identical and interchangeable; so just DD the disk image from one running SE to the one that got modified... walla, two windows SE machines.

      • (Score: 2) by PinkyGigglebrain on Friday November 12 2021, @07:56PM (1 child)

        by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Friday November 12 2021, @07:56PM (#1195742)

        ... each machine is identical and interchangeable;

        Not quite. the CPU, HD, GPU, and MB all have unique serial numbers built in so it would be a little more work than just a straight /bin/dd, which would indeed make an exact copy of the source drive, including it's install specific serial number and the locally/remotly stored hash made from the serial numbers of the sources hardware. All that info would need to be regenerated/edited to match the new system so Windwos wouldn't throw a hissy fit.

        Best plan would probably be to make a hd image of the hardware's original disk before you do anything with it and restore that later if needed/desired. Or not even bother trying to reset the machine

        --
        "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
        • (Score: 2) by ElizabethGreene on Sunday November 14 2021, @02:51AM

          by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Sunday November 14 2021, @02:51AM (#1196017)

          If I were going to implement the edition-upgrades-are-permanent functionality (which I wouldn't because I consider it a dumb approach) there is an easier way. I'd have the edition upgrade remove the baked in SE product key from the motherboard. It's way less complicated than trying to lock out based on a hardware ID.

          (I don't have any insider information on this, just speculating.)

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Friday November 12 2021, @05:10PM (2 children)

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Friday November 12 2021, @05:10PM (#1195667) Journal

    How do I loathe thee, Microsoft? Let me count the ways.

    Gosh, so MS doesn't want people to be able to buy their software as a stand-alone so they can install it on their existing hardware. It's yet another reason to not use their OS.

    How many more decisions like this can they make before their business case decoheres?

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 2) by turgid on Friday November 12 2021, @09:30PM (1 child)

      by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 12 2021, @09:30PM (#1195756) Journal

      Microsoft are tacitly saying "Windows is dead." They've recently brought out Windows Services for Linux which is really Linux on Windows and despite previously saying that the GPL was "a cancer" and "un-American" they've been contributing code to the Linux kernel. Prepare for the end of Windows. Linux has one. First they mock you, then they fight you, then...

      They really don't want you to stick with Windows.

      This is the biggest hint yet: they lost the OS wars. It's over. They're not doing Operating Systems any more. It's all about the "apps" and the "web" and the "experience.

      • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Saturday November 13 2021, @02:33PM

        by Phoenix666 (552) on Saturday November 13 2021, @02:33PM (#1195927) Journal

        That's interesting. They've always counted on their OS as the core of their strategy to "embrace, extend, extinguish." If you're right it would be a complete inversion.

        Doing that, though, presupposes that they have the creative and tech chops to out-compete Apple and Google, and I don't think they do. Their stacked ranking system devastated their corporate culture and drove many of the best away (whether they were at the top of the stacked ranking or not). And at this point they don't have the reputation or brand identity to attract fresh blood to change that, and a hide-bound management that will fight tooth and nail to keep their little fiefdoms.

        How many years do you give MS before they're a has-been like AOL?

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by darkfeline on Friday November 12 2021, @11:30PM

    by darkfeline (1030) on Friday November 12 2021, @11:30PM (#1195791) Homepage

    I guess the moral of this story is that you can't sell an OS any more. Windows dates back to a time when you had to buy an OS for you computer. Those days are long gone. Everyone else is selling devices that come with an OS (all Apple devices, Android, Chromebooks, all appliances). For the people who care, there are high quality OSes available for free (Linux/BSD distros, FreeNAS, OpenWRT, etc).

    It sounds like Microsoft is almost waking up to this, although they had a brief folly into OS-as-a-subscription. The final step would be Microsoft making the OS freely available to download and install on Microsoft Approved Devices like how Apple et al do it.

    --
    Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 14 2021, @03:12AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 14 2021, @03:12AM (#1196022)

    I'll probably wind up installing Windows 11 Pirate Bay Edition.

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