I had hoped by now I would have published my typical “what you need to know” post about the latest Chrome OS update. After all, the Chrome OS 96 update for Chromebooks went live on November 30th, which is nearly two weeks ago. At the moment, it’s nowhere to be found for Chromebooks that didn’t get it while it was briefly available.
In fact, if you look at Google’s latest information, the most recent Stable Channel version available is for Chrome OS 94. That minor update to the full-blown launch of Chrome OS 94 rolled out on November 13th.
So what gives here?
I have no inside knowledge but I did run a query to see how many open issues or bugs there tagged with the Chrome OS 96 update. I found 67 specific to Chrome in total, which was more than I expected. Unfortunately, digging through the list, I’m still stumped on the show-stopper here.
The only other clue as to the hold-up appears to be in the Google Chromebook Help forum, with regards to a report of Android apps not loading. That was reported on December 2nd and received this official response six days later:
Thank you again for taking time to bring this inability to launch apps, after updating to M96, to our attention. Our team is aware of this and are working quickly to resolve this issue
A similar report in the Chrome OS Reddit forums on December 1st received the same Google response. And in that forum, I see a user reported that “With the recent 96 updates, on my Duet, the play store itself stopped working.”
Well, that’s never a good sign.
Unfortunately, outside of the forum responses, I haven’t seen any other Google communication on the issue. And that simply should not be. Remember too, that the Chrome OS 96 update is the first in this new world of a four-week Chrome OS software update cycle. We skipped Chrome OS 95 to get the platform in sync with the Chrome browser.
For managed Chromebooks, this is less of a potential issue. Chrome OS admins can centrally hold up the deployment of software updates to Chromebooks in their organization. (I hope they did)
And, starting with this version, organizations using Chrome OS Enterprise can opt for an LTS, or long-term support channel. That means their devices only get milestone (read: big) updates every six months. So while they will miss out on some of the newest features coming to Chrome OS, they’ll gain system stability.
Whatever the issue is, I hope we hear something more official soon. You can’t go radio silent on a desktop operating system when you’re trying to grow the footprint of it. And this leads me back to certain Chrome OS Enterprise features being offered to everyday Chromebook users: Specifically, I’d like to see users have more control over the Chrome OS updates on their own devices.
Before I forget, if you did get Chrome OS 96 and you’re having major issues, you can find and download the official Chrome OS 94 recovery image for your device here. Just be sure to download the file for your specific device and remember that reverting to an older version of Chrome OS will completely wipe out your local data.
Updated at 10:25 am ET, December 16 to reflect that Chrome OS 96 is rolling out again.