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Google announces 8 years of Chrome OS software updates for all new Chromebooks (Updated)

Today in conjunction with the BETT education event in London, Google announced major news with all new Chromebooks to receive 8 years of Chrome OS automatic software updates. Late last year, Google extended Chrome OS update expiration dates for more than 130 device models, but this new policy applies to new Chromebooks launching in 2020 and beyond.

Chromebooks now show their software end of support date

This news is a big plus for the Chromebook market. For one thing, it addresses much the oft-quoted “built-in obsolesce” argument against the devices. Windows PCs and macOS computers are typically able to get updated software for at least the same 8 years. So this announcement brings Chromebooks more on par with those devices.

Secondly, the limited amount of update support for Chrome OS has skewed some buyers away from Chromebooks who look at their total hardware investment over time. This could sway some potential buyers back to a Chromebook.

This also provides a better ROI for schools and businesses who don’t want to replace hardware every few years. That’s especially true since purchasing a Chromebook in the middle of its software update lifecycle cuts into that return. That’s still something to be aware of, but now these organizations have a longer timeframe to work with.

While I applaud this news from Google, I’d still like to see the company require its hardware partners to clearly indicate the software update expiration date on product boxes and in specification sheets. I’ve started to include this date whenever I report on new hardware but this should be a universal piece of information. At least you can see the software expiration date on your Chromebook — after you purchase it, that is — in the Settings.

By the way, I didn’t have this information when sharing news of the new Acer Chromebook 712 earlier today, but I’ve now added it to the list of specifications.

Update at 2:30 pm ET, January 21: After reaching out to a Google representative for clarification, I was told that this policy applies to all Chromebooks, not just those in the EDU sector.

Effectively, the AUE date is being changed from 6.5 years to 8 years. I have no additional information on the policy as it pertains to Chromeboxes and Chromebases at this time.

Keep in mind what has not changed: the AUE date is 8 years from the device platform release. That means the clock begins when the first Chromebook with a certain platform is released, future Chromebooks using that same platform will have less than 8 years of full AUE support; that’s the current policy.

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Kevin C. Tofel

9 thoughts on “Google announces 8 years of Chrome OS software updates for all new Chromebooks (Updated)

  1. For tax purposes, capital depreciation of PCs is normally over five years. So as long as one buys Chromebooks that have been on the market for less than three years, the full purchase price can be depreciated for tax purposes before the AUE date. This sort of says that the market life for newly released Chromebooks is three years. It also raises a couple of questions. [1] Will the release-to-AUE time also be extended for future models of Chromeboxes and Chrombases? [2] Does installing CloudReady after the AUE date enable a Chrome OS device to continue to receive Chromium OS updates?

  2. The wording in the blog post doesn’t sound like it will apply to all Chrome devices, though. Minimum support duration isn’t mentioned even in the AUE help article anymore. Do you have other source confirming this?

    1. I have sent some clarifying questions to Google but have not heard back yet. I’ll update as soon as I get a response. Cheers!

    2. And I just heard back: Even though the AUE help article isn’t yet updated, the new policy changes AUE support from 6.5 years to 8 years for all new Chromebooks. The post is updated with additional details.

  3. So I guess this also means Qualcomm either provides 8 years of open-source drivers for the Linux kernel (as opposed to paid binary blobs for couple years as it is currently common with cellphones) or there won’t be any Qualcomm Chrome device. 🙂

  4. Any chance “older” Chromebooks may also get extended? I have a new HP Chromebook X2 and I am disappointed it is only getting updates until 2024.

  5. A very interesting trend. The broader context behind 8 years of ChromeOS updates includes recently announced changes in support of Ubuntu LTS releases. Extended Support Maintenance (ESM) for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is now _free_ for up to three computers and extends support from 5 to 8 years. It appears that individual users of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS will similarly receive 5 years of standard support plus 3 additional years of free extended support. Better still, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is slated to get 5 years of standard support plus 5 years more of extended support.

    Bottom line: Longer support of an OS encourages purchasing high quality computers that run it.

  6. Well, the end of life-ing of some i5 and i7 chromeboxes I have, along with every chromebook (I bought decent spec refurb machines) all in the same year. Still quite usable and I put Cloudready on a number of them with the mr. chromebox bios. If I hadn’t been able to do that, I’d have been pretty unhappy.

    However, I decided that since new decent chrome devices are >$500, and I can buy a windows machine with more power and storage for less than that, and put Cloudready on it and get the same experience…I’m doing that. A ryzen 3700 desktop ran me about 400 and an i7 laptop loaded with goodies was also 400. I can’t get anywhere near that much power for those prices in a chrome device.

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