Microsoft has been struggling to find a way to compete with Chromebooks, whose popularity has exploded during the pandemic. Their best attempt so far is the Surface Laptop SE, an education-focused laptop that recently went on sale. Unlike some previous Microsoft devices, the Surface Laptop SE is designed to be easily serviceable. He has even posted a teardown video showing how easy the laptop is to repair.
The Surface Laptop SE isn’t a high-end piece of hardware and it doesn’t look like it. Laptops with slim designs, metal bodies, and ultra-high-resolution OLED panels make the devices more difficult to repair, but Microsoft shareholders pressured the company to support the right-to-repair movement; yes, the company that not long ago sold a laptop that you couldn’t open without a box cutter. Well, they are doing better with the Surface Laptop SE.
The $ 250 Surface Laptop SE has modest specs including an 11.6-inch 768p LCD screen, a Celeron CPU, and streamlined Windows 11 SE. A common problem with more premium laptops in a school is that repairing them out of warranty can be prohibitively expensive. Therefore, the Surface Laptop SE can be completely disassembled with simple tools including a torx screwdriver and tweezers.
The video posted by Microsoft is only eight minutes long and all major components are removed at the end. Most modern laptops use glue and security screws, but not here. All cables use simple ribbon connectors and are not routed under things where they are difficult to access. Even the battery lifts cleanly. IT staff and even students could handle a Surface Laptop SE repair.
The host notes that multiple teams were involved in designing the Surface Laptop SE to make it easily serviceable. However, Microsoft has not said anything about the availability of replacement parts. That could make repairs more expensive if the components aren’t easy to buy. That unknown aside, the only potential issue we’ve spotted is the way the keyboard fits into the frame. The chassis is all plastic, so those snaps could break if you’re not careful.
Since it is an educational machine, Microsoft does not sell it directly. Schools will be able to get the Surface Laptop SE through resellers like CDW and ITsavvy. People are currently out of luck, but hopefully future consumer devices will take some cues from the Surface Laptop SE.