Google Seems Confused About How Long Chromebooks Should Get Updates

Boxed Chromebook Logo DG AH 2020
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Google has now officially ensured that two new Chromebooks will see almost nine years of updates. That's according to reports noting a change to the support pages. The pages point specifically to two Enterprise edition Chromebooks — the HP Pro c645 Chromebook Enterprise and the Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook Enterprise. But that flies directly in the face of its espoused update cycle for Chrome OS gadgets.

Why is this updates-schedule change for these Chromebooks odd?

Now, Google has made changes to Chrome OS in the past to extend the viability of the platform. Most recently, it revealed that some Chromebooks would receive up to eight years of updates. That includes some notable entries such as the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, Lenovo 10E Chromebook Tablet, and the Acer Chromebook 712.

With the two Chromebooks above scheduled to hit their end-of-life (EoL) date in June 2029, though, Google has gone beyond that. But not quite by a year. That represents a fragmentation of the company's approach to its devices. Namely, it's just another big jump away from its fixed life expectancy for the devices. And that's already a difficult timeframe to determine in many cases. Although many Chromebooks now mention EoL in settings under "About Chrome OS."

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In fact, that's the second such fragmentation since not every Chrome laptop will receive the eight-year cycle either. Instead, most last between five and six years from their announcement. Not from the purchase or from when they hit store shelves. So there are, in effect, three different classes of Chromebook now, split by the update cycle. That's atop the different classes that already exist for students, Enterprise, and general consumers — as well as splits in value and pricing.

Is Google going to collect itself and bring things back to uniformity?

Of course, updating Enterprise Chromebooks to last longer does arguably make sense. Those are the devices typically used by schools and businesses. So adding value helps Google grow the primary market for those devices. But the lack of uniformity could also spell confusion for some users. And it remains to be seen if the eight or nearly nine-year update cycle will be brought to the platform as a whole.