An error in the Chrome OS code has reportedly been telling some users that they were at their end-of-life (EOL) period well ahead of schedule. The error informed users that their device was effectively going to be obsolete with a message telling them they'd no longer be seeing any Chrome OS updates.
The message shown to users is fairly standard. Chrome OS devices have a shelf life, lasting around six-and-a-half years from a device's launch.
After that, automatic firmware and security updates come to an end. While there are ways around it, that's ordinarily when users will want to buy another device. So the message, which appears in the bottom-right-hand side of the UI shelf, is an important one.
That's when it's displayed appropriately. The problem with Google's message is that it originated from changes in the Chromium Gerrit code repository.
The warning appeared to a wide swath of users in the beta channels of the OS. There are most likely some users who were expecting the message soon anyway. In most cases, it didn't actually have anything to do with any real EOL phase for the products in question.
The Chrome EOL error is telling but how did this happen?
The warning is a message that every Chrome OS user can expect to see at some point. But Google is pushing its own advertising campaign for the gadgets, including a lot of information about how to develop software on them. That's exactly where this error would have appeared most prominently.
So it isn't doing itself any favors stirring up anxiety by reminding would-be developers on its platform that their device is about to expire already.
Digging deeper, this is also tied directly to an incoming update that's supposed to ease the burden of the above-mentioned shelf life.
The company plans to release a new variation on the warning message that should hit end-users approximately six months before their device reaches its EOL. That will give users more time to prepare to upgrade or install a new operating system.
When the first hints of that change were implemented, the code was shipped with a mistake in the delivery parameters.
Chromebooks can, in fact, live on well past their expected lifespan. Google intends that timeline to be a minimum guideline more than anything else. So in some cases, Google doesn't actually 'schedule' a device's end-of-life. Instead, it waits until the expected end date is closer.
The new code told the system to send the informative warning not only to devices approaching the EOL. It also told the system to send it to those for which an EOL hadn't been scheduled officially yet.
Google has fixed this one fairly quickly
The fix for this particular EOL error in Chrome OS is already on its way so most users should be able to ignore it if it is still recurring. To be sure, there are ways to check whether any given device is really on its way out.
Depending on the Channel a user happens to be on — namely, the Dev or Canary Channel — the patch may have already arrived. Since these are the search giant's least stable channels, they receive the software regularly.
The Dev Channel typically lags just behind the Canary Channel, which receives updates on a not-quite-daily basis.