Chromebooks get 8 years of updates, and Microsoft's Windows 10 is the big loser
Many people publicly deride Chromebooks, but that is largely because of their ignorance. For instance, some will say the computers are nothing more than a "glorified web browser." Actually, Chromebooks run a secure Linux distribution called "Chrome OS." While the operating system does focus heavily on the web, that really isn't a problem nowadays. Since Wi-Fi is ubiquitous these days, doing all of your computing on the web is actually ideal. Who the heck isn't constantly connected to the internet anyway?
But OK, if you have a need for offline computing, that is totally possible too. Not to mention, Chromebooks can now run both Android apps and traditional Linux desktop programs -- there is a huge library of useful software just waiting to be installed.
With all of that said, there is one aspect of Chromebooks that has really angered me. In fact, this one issue has made me hesitant to recommend Chromebooks to some people. What exactly is this negative thing? Limited support. You see, with Chrome OS, as soon as you buy a computer running, the clock begins ticking on when it will no longer receive updates.
Actually, it is worse than that -- the clock starts ticking when that model first hits stores. If you buy an older Chromebook (new or secondhand), you may have already lost out on most of your support and updates. Imagine buying a laptop and having it stop getting updates after 1 or 2 years -- that stinks, right? Say what you want about Microsoft, but Windows 10 can run rather well on some pretty ancient computers! Thankfully, Google has seemingly seen the light on this dilemma and will begin offering much longer support -- for some models, at least.
"When we first launched Chromebooks, devices only received three years of automatic updates. Over the years, we’ve been able to increase that to over six. Last fall, we extended AUE on many devices currently for sale, in many cases adding an extra year or more before they expire. This will help schools better select which devices to invest in and provide more time to transition from older devices. And now, devices launching in 2020 and beyond will receive automatic updates for even longer. The new Lenovo 10e Chromebook Tablet and Acer Chromebook 712 will both receive automatic updates until June 2028. " says Jim Deno, Program Manager, Chrome OS.
Deno further explains, "With 20+ new devices for education, extended years of automatic updates on more devices and more than 200 controls for admins and counting in Google Admin Console, Chromebooks can provide a stronger return on investment than ever before. To support this greater lifespan, we've increased the list price of the Chrome Education Upgrade from $30 to $38."
It is important to note that Google is not providing this extended support retroactively -- in addition to the two aforementioned Lenovo and Acer Chromebooks, it will only be made available for future models. In other words, your existing Chromebook will stop getting updates on the date it was always scheduled to (you can verify that exact date here). It also isn't clear if Google will provide 8 years of updates for all upcoming Chromebooks or just select models. Time will tell.
One thing is for sure, however -- if all future Chromebooks do get 8 years of updates, Microsoft should be very worried. Why? Because Chromebooks are already very attractive to consumers, luring them away from Windows 10. Not to mention, more and more schools are ditching Windows for Chrome OS. Having 8 years of updates makes Google's operating system even more appealing. The gap between Chrome OS and Windows 10 continues to shrink.