Microsoft has been struggling to find a way to compete with Chromebooks, which have exploded in popularity during the pandemic. Its best attempt yet is the Surface Laptop SE, an education-focused laptop that has just recently gone on sale. Unlike some past Microsoft devices, the Surface Laptop SE is designed to be easily repairable. It has even posted a teardown video showing how repair-friendly the laptop is.
The Surface Laptop SE is not a high-end piece of hardware, and it doesn’t look like one. Notebooks with slim designs, metal bodies, and ultra-high-resolution OLED panels make devices harder to repair, but Microsoft’s shareholders have pushed the company to support the right to repair movement — yes, the company that not long ago sold a laptop that you couldn’t open up without a box cutter. Well, they’re doing better with the Surface Laptop SE.
The $250 Surface Laptop SE has modest specs including an 11.6-inch 768p LCD, a Celeron CPU, and the stripped-down Windows 11 SE. A common issue with more premium laptops in a school is that repairing them outside of warranty can be prohibitively expensive. Thus, the Surface Laptop SE can be fully disassembled with simple tools including a torx screwdriver and tweezers.
The video posted by Microsoft is only eight minutes long, and every major component is removed by the end. Most modern laptops use glue and security screws, but not here. All the cables use simple ribbon connectors, and they’re not routed under things where they’re hard to access. Even the battery lifts out cleanly. IT staff and even students could handle repairing a Surface Laptop SE.
The host notes that multiple teams were involved in designing the Surface Laptop SE to be easily repairable. However, Microsoft hasn’t said anything about the availability of replacement parts. That could make repairs more costly if the components aren’t easy to purchase. Aside from that unknown, the only potential issue we’ve spotted is the way the keyboard snaps into the frame. The chassis is all plastic, so those snaps could break if you’re not careful.
As this is an education machine, Microsoft isn’t selling it directly. Schools will be able to get the Surface Laptop SE through resellers like CDW and ITsavvy. Individuals are currently out of luck, but hopefully future consumer devices take some cues from the Surface Laptop SE.
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