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Chromebook settings show Chrome OS end of support date, but it’s not enough

I was thrilled to read this news over at XDA Developers: A new Chrome OS change will show the exact date for when your Chromebook software updates will end. The information will appear in the Settings, when you click or tap the “About Chrome OS” option.

And this news coincides nicely with Google’s recent decision to extend the AUE, or automatic update expiration, for more than 130 Chromebooks and Chromeboxes. In some cases, older devices gained two or more years of software support, which includes both new features as well as security patches.

Credit XDA Developers

There’s still a problem that needs to be addressed, however.

While showing the AUE date on current Chromebooks is a nice plus, it only helps those who already own a Chromebook. The bigger issue, at least to me, is that when purchasing a new Chromebook, most people typically don’t know when their device will stop getting software updates until after they’ve made the purchase.

What I’d like to see happen is for Google to first request, and then eventually require, Chromebook retailers and resellers to provide the AUE date alongside the specifications of the product, and on the product box as well.

It’s a two-step process in my mind because it wouldn’t be ideal for Google to suddenly require this change. The company has to give retailers a reasonable transition time to meet this requirement.

I don’t place all of the blame on retailers here because they’re not the only ones who are letting potential Chromebook buyers down. I have as well because I haven’t consistently shared the AUE date when writing reviews or news about new devices, nor when pointing out discounts and sales on them.

So to that end, moving forward, I will always include a mention of the AUE date in those situations here. And if I inadvertently forget to do so, please call me out on it!

That alone won’t fix the issue here, but at least I won’t be contributing to it any longer. And the real resolution for the problem at large is getting the software update expiration dates front-and-center for consumers before the point of purchase.

author avatar
Kevin C. Tofel

14 thoughts on “Chromebook settings show Chrome OS end of support date, but it’s not enough

  1. Exactly! In fact, those of us who have just bought our Chromebook (Acer Chromebook Tab 10, in my case), had no idea that Google even had any such plans, in the first place! I thought that was only the sort of psychotic nonsense that Microsoft was doing, lately! I guess all the manufacturers/developers have gone crazy, then!

  2. Totally agree with you Kevin.

    Chrome devices are fantastic and I’d really like to see them take more market share but it needs to be done in an honest and transparent way. Presenting buyers with bad news after unboxing is just unprofessional. If however consumers were made aware of the AUE date prior to purchase it would instil a greater level of trust in the platform.

  3. The same could be said for EVERY consumer electronics device. Things like home routers may only get one or two security updates in the first few months of their lives. Add TV’s and streaming players, phones and and and
    Kevin, I have always wished that when you (and others on Chrome sites) reported “deals” on Chromebooks, that you included the AUE date on those devices. A one or two hundred dollar deal may might not be such a good deal on a device with only a limited portion of its updatable life left.
    My Chromebook, an Acer R13 was a winner with 2 additional years of support. Although it still seems to serve me well, that two extra years means it still has value when I sell it to get a new one.

    1. I forgot to say, since I am on Canary and Chrome 80, the AUE date does show up in settings. I was wrong about it being an extra 2 years. It is only 23 months. Boy am I sad.

  4. Google probably wonders what the big deal is. After all, in the case of Android OS, unless you own a Nexus or Pixel smartphone, you’ll be lucky if you get more than one Android OS update! And Android smartphones are just as expensive as Chromebooks, if not more. As customers of devices that run an OS made by Google, we’ve all accepted that OS updates will end after a few years and then we’ll then have a choice to make as to whether to replace the device or live with the risk (or switch to a device that updates the OS for as long as the hardware is capable of loading the updates). Still Google is definitely at fault for making it extremely difficult for us to predict the level of risk that we’re accepting prior to purchase and at any given point in time afterwards.

    1. I’d say that one major difference is that important features of an Android phone – most critically, the Web browser and HTML rendering engine – has been split apart from the regular OS releases and is updated independently via the Google Play Store. Android devices running an OS as old as KitKat are still running the latest version of Chrome, and as old as Lollipop are also still providing the latest HTML rendering engine to all other apps – so you can still use your Android devices visit websites which adhere to the latest web standards, and which require adherence to the latest TLS and related technologies.

      On the other hand, with Chromebooks, Chrome browser updates are tied to OS updates. So when the OS updates stop, so will adherence to current web standards. Particularly with respect to TLS, there is a strong drive among many service providers to progressively shut off support for obsolete versions of the standard as newer versions are adopted. That will lead to previously functional websites going dark on Chromebooks which are no longer receiving updates.

    1. Yes, they could but only if they know about it and where to look. New Chromebook buyers don’t likely know there *is* an AUE for software updates. 😉

  5. It’s interesting that google is getting a lot of flack for this. Apple products are also only supported up to 5 years, and they never announce the date that these products will lose support. As other people have pointed out, even $1000+ phones from Samsung lose support after a couple of years. I agree that Chromebooks should reveal before purchase when they will stop being supported, but I think all products with software and security updates should do the same.

    1. And then there is Microsoft, who have lately been ending support for versions of Windows 10 only months after releasing them.

  6. I am not an eco-warrior by any means, but I think it is a disgrace that so much hardware is “end-of-lifed” so quickly and ends up in landfill. I have just junked my Acer C720P which was recently given the EOL by Google, while it was behaving perfectly well and did fine as something to dash off the odd email. The battery wasn’t even that bad.

    I don’t care if Samsung phones go out of support after 2 years, I really think this is one area where there should be firmware updates and replaceable batteries to allow people to hang on to hardware if they want to. It’s a sheer waste of the world’s resources.

    1. Agreed. I see it as an attempt to force customers into buying new hardware. They want to avoid the situation Microsoft has had, with people hanging onto to their PCs and outdated operating systems for years, rather than upgrading.

  7. I have a Pixelbook with AUE in June 2024. At this time I expect I will try to install some version of Linux or maybe a Chromium build on it around then, assuming it is still working well. But, why predetermine AUE? Especially on the premium devices they should be able to continue to be updated as long as the processors and hardware can handle it. At home I have some really old PCs running various versions of Linux and they perform great for ordinary tasks.

  8. As an experiment, I will continue to run Crouton Ubuntu 16.04 on my now outdated Acer C720. When 16.04 reaches EOL in 2021, I plan to update to Ubuntu 20.04 if feasible. While I will miss the latest ChromeOS kernel patches, I expect useful further service from the C720. But I won’t be using it to do online banking and the like.

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