Google is now prepared to provide as many as 8 years worth of updates to some Chromebooks launched in 2020, according to a recent blog post from the company. In the post, the search giant says it changing its Chrome OS Automatic Update (AUE) policy based on customer feedback. Alongside OEMs and other partners, the company now feels it can provide updates for longer than the previous policy period.
The updates will continue to include both security and feature changes too. So Google isn't focusing solely on extending how long Chromebooks remain secure, as advertised.
Which Chromebooks are getting 8 years of updates? It's complicated
Google's explanation of exactly which devices will be included is relatively vague. The company only explicitly reveals two brands and models. Those are the Lenovo 10e Chromebook Tablet and Acer Chromebook 712.
Both devices are expressly linked in with the education segment of the Chromebook market too. In fact, that seems to be the driving force behind Google's decision here. Education Chromebooks make up a significant portion of devices sold. The education market is one of the most competitive computer markets.
Because of that, Google's goal here appears to be to try and level the playing field in terms of the competition's update cycles. In this case, that's Windows and macOS. Microsoft plans to provide support for Windows 8, for instance, for around 11 years — until 2023. That's significantly longer than the five to six years a Chrome OS device typically saw updates before Google's announcement. It's a similar situation with macOS.
So it makes sense that Google would focus on the education sector where cost and budgeting are typically a bigger deal. But the search giant is absolutely not only providing 8-years of updates to education Chromebooks.
Instead, it says that 'most' Chromebooks released in 2020 will be seeing updates for 8 years. The exceptions to that will likely be devices that are running on older hardware. Google has not taken the time to confirm the exact devices. But it is feasible that's going to be applied chiefly to hardware either as new or newer than Intel's generation 10 chipsets.
Will updates return to a five-year cycle?
Google also hasn't gone so far as to commit to every device going forward receiving an 8-year update lifecycle. So it's not necessarily likely that devices launched in 2021, 2022, or any subsequent year will get the same treatment. It is just as likely that Google will return everything to a 5-year cycle.
Conversely, the company may cycle through any number of support cycles moving forward, rather than adhering to its originally planned 5-year policy.
That would explain a number of other changes Google has recently made. That includes at least one change that now allows users to see when their Chromebooks will reach their end-of-life directly via the Settings app. To find that, users just need the latest version of Chrome OS and to navigate to that app. Within the "About Chrome OS" side-menu page, the date is now listed under the "Additional details" option.
The new method for discovering that is far better than the complex mathematics required via previous methods. It's also much better than navigating to the official Chrome OS site for the devices since that list isn't always the most up-to-date or complete.