I love Chromebooks, but there's always been one annoying thing about them. While they can run for years and years -- I have several over ten years still running -- officially, Google and Chromebook vendors only support them until their Auto Update Expiration (AUE) date. That used to be three to five years, then it became up to eight years for models launched in 2020 or later. Now, according to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report. Google will support all Chromebooks for ten years.
Personally, their limited life spans never bothered me. My ancient Chromebooks worked just fine. Companies and school systems, however, needed support contracts, and they had to junk older Chromebooks. Not good.
So, in response to growing school administrator concerns about Chromebooks' limited lifespan, Google Is significantly extending the support period. The move aims to ensure these devices remain cost-effective for educational institutions and prevent them from becoming prematurely e-waste. Doubling the lifespan of Chromebooks' original expiration dates could save public schools -- and taxpayers -- an estimated $1.8 billion.
Under the new policy, Google will provide Chromebook security patches and software upgrades for up to a decade. This substantial extension will begin next year and will effectively guarantee that no existing Chromebook will expire within the next two years.
However, a Google spokesperson added the caveat that, "In making changes to the expiration policy, we have to coordinate with each partner making any component in these devices. It requires a security and performance guarantee from the makers." Other Google sources indicated that the major Chromebook vendors are expected to work with the company to extend their hardware's lifespan.
This ten-year support policy will start in 2024. Specifically, Google will offer support for specific "platforms." A platform will not be a manufacturer's brand. Instead, it's expected the support will be for a specific model. For example, low-end ARM-powered Chromebooks would be one model type, while high-end Intel i5 Chromebooks would be another.
In the meantime, though, Google also announced they'd extend the support lifetime for all 2021 and newer Chromebooks. In addition, if you have an older, pre-2021 Chromebook, you can extend your support once it reaches its AUE. So, if your Chromebook will see its support end within the next two years, you'll get two to three more years of support.
All-in-all, Chromebooks look like a better deal than ever for anyone who wants an inexpensive laptop for school, work, Linux, or anything except gaming, photography, or video. Windows PCs offer the best options for pure play, and Macs will best serve photographers and videographers.