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Chrome OS 96 update for Chromebooks

What happened to the Chrome OS 96 update for Chromebooks? (Updated)

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.

Update: Chrome OS 96 is now available for most supported Chrome OS devices.

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.”

Google Play Store

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.

author avatar
Kevin C. Tofel

19 thoughts on “What happened to the Chrome OS 96 update for Chromebooks? (Updated)

  1. I have the Versie 96.0.4664.77 (Officiële build) (64-bits) working fine, with Android-apps,….

    1. Ditto Acer R13 [although many of same bugs introduced in 94 are still present — Regression testing, Google?]

  2. For all its merits, Android OS is Achilles Heel of Chrome OS. Chrome OS updates are inextricably “knotted” to Android OS. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do they part.

  3. “Chrome OS admins can centrally hold up the deployment of software updates to Chromebooks in their organization. (I hope they did)”
    Holding updates also means holding security patches. The best practice is to run ~5 % of company’s devices in beta channel so it can identify the issues *before* they come to stable. (And then immediately raise it with Google and eventually hold the updates.)
    Setting aside that most uncaught issues are usually in Android (beta testers aren’t using it?), the fact that these kinds of issues come to stable is a problem. Stable should be… well… stable.

  4. I’m also on 96.0.4664.77 , phaser360
    My installed android apps both launch fine, Google Play also working fine – just updated my apps on it.
    Faults might be limited to builds for specific models/architectures perhaps?
    Very odd that OmahaProxy shows M94 only.
    I note that 96 is an LTS version according to https://chromiumdash.appspot.com/schedule

  5. I installed ChromeOS 96 as soon as it was available. Not being an Android app user, I just checked the Play Store – it came up just fine and I was able to install the Pluto app, so I don’t think I have any problem. Evidently the issue is hit and miss? Glad it was a miss for me!

  6. i have 96 as well on one of my chromebooks but 94 on the other. they are different brands, the 96 being asus and the 94 is an acer. the asus is a higher end one which is probably why 96 is stable. might have something to do with ram or just the way each company designed their chromebooks. this has 8gb ram the other 4gb. the acer is an older model, the spin 311, and that might have something to do with it as well.

  7. Well did they ever fix the issue of android apps that request location but you aren’t able to oblige not unless you switch to dev mode?

  8. I checked for updates last night, and lo and behold, after the update installed and I was asked to reboot, I discovered I had 96.0.4664.111. So far, so good.

  9. I have an Asus Chromebox 3 and received 96 without issues, yesterday 15/12/21 a really big 1GB+ update to:

    Version 96.0.4664.111 (Official Build) (64-bit)

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