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Google Extends Support for Chrome OS Devices to Five Years

chrome os support period

Google has announced that it is extending the support period for Chrome OS devices to a minimum of five years from release.

The revised ‘end of life’ (EOL) dates means that the majority of Chromebooks released so far will benefit from an extra year of OS updates than  was originally planned.

Google say that even these dates are, for all but one device, the Samsung Series 5, simply the ‘earliest’ at which support will be retired. Official EOL dates could be extended further in the future.

The bump means that even the original reference device, the Cr-48, will manage to achieve a full five years of updates. An estimated 60,000 Cr-48s were given away for free by Google in 2010 as part of a pilot programme to ready the OS for mainstream release.

How Long Is Your Chromebook Supported for?

The majority of Chrome OS devices, including the Samsung Series 3, 5 and 550, are now looking at receiving five years of updates from their original release. This is roughly around the same amount of time that Microsoft provided mainstream support to Windows Vista users, and a good half year longer than that Apple offers with an average release of OS X.

It’s not just the notebooks getting renewed support. The original Samsung Chromebox, three models of which were released between May 2012 and March 2013, now have a tentative EOL date of March 2018 which is up one year from the 2017 cut off date previously given.

The Samsung Series 5 is the only notebook to have a guaranteed EOL date so far. Updates for the dual-core device will stop funnelling down in June, 2016. This is up five months from the January 2016 EOL previously given by Google.

Expected EOLs for newer devices, such as the LG Chromebase and Lenovo N20p, are yet to be released.

After EOL

What happens after a device reaches EOL? Well, it will still function, it just won’t be updated with security fixes and new features. Considering the explosion in Chrome devices over the past 2 years alone, it just wouldn’t be feasible for Google to support every device long past their prime.

But would you really want to still be using a single core Intel Atom chip in 2016? 

For less than $500, you get an up-to-date device for at least 5 years. It might end up sucking harder than an ancient Packard Bell trying to load the Yahoo homepage, but it’s mildly reassuring at least. 

  • Great deal! This is the equivalent of an Ubuntu Long Term Support (LTS) release, such as the recent 14.04.

    • disgrunted purchaser

      The main difference is that with Ubuntu you can simply install the new version. If you have a chromebook that became EOL you can not install anything else and you are stuck with a frozen release and all the associated vulnerabilities.

      I appreciate the effort of the article in presenting this news in a positive way, but how is this good news considering that they did not have any EOL warning prior to this announcement (apart from support for managed enterprise/education customers)? How is a 5y cutoff date (from START OF AVAILABILITY OF A DEVICE, not from last sales) good news compared to no preset cutoff date?

      • Carl Draper

        But you *can* install Ubuntu on a Chromebook :)

      • “If you have a chromebook that became EOL you can not install anything else”

        No. Chromebooks do not use encrypted bootloaders like Windows RT devices. You can ALWAYS install the OS and version of your choice, even after EOL.

        5 years of support is in line with industry practices. It’s a good deal to know the minimum support period.

  • Sean Lumly

    I would much prefer if the software was modular enough so that the support would be indefinite. For example, I have zero trouble running Ubuntu on one of my machines that’s 8 years old at this point.

    Thankfully the prices of Chromebooks are low enough, and the guaranteed support is long enough such that it still seems acceptable.

    • Tim Lund

      When Chrome OS is no longer supported on a device you can then install the appropriate Ubuntu or other Linux distro. The best of both worlds.

      • Sean Lumly

        Thanks for the suggestion, but this is not a realistic option for people that don’t want to, or don’t have the skill to install a 3rd party OS (this is likely 98% of the market). I am increasingly that person. I manage more than a few servers, and wrestling with a computer designed to be casual is not my idea of a good time.

        • calden74

          Wait, what, what about the 8 year old computer you installed Ubuntu on? Your 99.99% can simply by another ChromeBook if they don’t want to take time to install Ubuntu, Arch, Mint, ChromiumOS, flash the firmware, etc. 5 years is more than enough time for a sub 400 dollar computer.

          • Sean Lumly

            Reading seems to be a lost art..

      • …on a computer with about 32GB of hard drive space? Erm, thanks but no thanks. :P

  • Kenny Strawn

    That’s one more year than Apple offers for iOS devices… To put this into perspective: The first-gen iPhone got iOS 3 (at most), the iPhone 3G got iOS 4 (at most), then the 3GS got iOS 6 but not iOS 7… and it looks like iOS 7 will be the very last update the 4 gets, then iOS 8 the last for the 4S, and so on. Averaging, of course, only 3.5 years of support.

    Yeah, VERY good move by Google… if only they supported Android/Nexus devices for 5 years as well, then we’d all be ecstatic. Unfortunately, 18 moths is WAY too small of a support window as far as that’s concerned… and that’s precisely why I got an iPhone 4S in December 2012 despite how much I loathed Apple’s patent trolling (which has since seemed to vanish): because it still got iOS 7 despite being more than 2 years old, and likewise will also end up getting iOS 8 this coming fall as well, just in time for this years upgrade. Compared to that support window, Google’s support window on mobile devices is downright terrible.

    • David Li

      Most people upgrade phones every two years. If Google updated phones for 5 years then they would be wasting resources developing kernels for legacy devices. X86 computers are easier to update and the upgrade cycle for PCs are much slower. In the past, the raw speed of phones have doubled every year. This is the first year where speeds haven’t doubled. That said, iOS doesn’t change that much (only iOS 7 offered functional AND aesthetic changes) so it is less resource heavy than Android, allowing support on older devices. For example, try running KitKat on a Nook Color, it runs but is basically unusable.

      • Kenny Strawn

        The claim that most users upgrade every 2 years is definitely true for users of Galaxy, HTC One, and/or LG G series phones, that’s for sure… ah, but it’s NOT true for most Nexus users. You want a Nexus 5 on AT&T? Got no option but to get it carrier-unlocked and pay a fortune despite already being upgrade-eligible… At least Apple was willing to (after some delay) allow the iPhone on all the major US carriers, making the upgrade window pretty straightforward. If Google did the same — offered a Nexus device as an upgrade option for ALL AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, AND T-Mobile users alike — there wouldn’t be much to worry about… ah, and remember, my 4S was indeed already a good 15 months old when I got it in 2012, and the 5 was already out, allowing $100 to be saved on it. Do the same with a Nexus device — save $100 on a last-gen Nexus — and you’ll end up searching all over for 3rd-party ROMs a mere 3 months after the upgrade due to the relatively small support window. Only a minority is wealthy enough to afford to upgrade to the newest phone they can possibly find every time.

  • Lewis Johnson

    At some point a device is going to be so outdated that any new features added to CromeOS run the risk of bogging it down rather than enhancing the experience – like how update after update ends up slowing every version of Windows down. Cutting off older devices like this makes sense, though there is going to be a fine art in making sure it’s handled well.
    Google need to make sure the final update pushed out to any device is rock-solid stable and hardened enough to survive any ‘Pwn2Own’ hackathon contest, then it can be put out to pasture safely, and the end users shouldn’t have much to grumble about.
    If flash is still around (it probably will be) then I can see that being a possible problem as it updates frequently and is baked into ChromeOS. Not really sure how you solve that one.

  • Boothy

    I’m quite happy with this. Owning a Series 5 550 running to 2017, and the Series 3 Chromebox to 2018.
    Chances are by 2017 I’ll have already looked to upgrade the Chromebook with something cooler by then, and lets face it for the cost of a CB, upgrading after 5 years isn’t too much of a stretch anyway.
    Chromeboxes though are interesting, maybe a little longer support on these might be nice. I’m always looking at the next Chromebook, but the Box is just there, out of site and just works.

  • Lou G

    My chromebook is falling apart. The SD card door just popped out, the bottom of it on the right side near the speaker pops out. I have never dropped it, never banged it, etc. So this is good to see. Mine’s one of the new ARM based ones though.

  • Core23

    Nice to know the Refurbished Acer C720 I got for $149 will be covered until Nov 2018. Can’t complain one bit.

  • Or, you know, just get a proper laptop for a very similar price with a decent hard drive and similar specs and get 5-year support on the same release (with potentially infinite upgrades (install Ubuntu! this wouldn’t work great on a Chromebook due to the extremely limited hard drive space)) :D

    Proof:

    Samsung Chromebook XE303C12-A01UK
    Price: £220
    Processor: 1.7GHz x 2
    RAM: 2GB DDR3
    Graphics: Integrated
    Graphics RAM: DDR3 SDRAM
    Hard Drive: 16GB (+ limited Google Drive storage, after 3 years or so you need to pay a large regular fee or drop all your files, have fun with that (someone comment with exact details for this model if you want))

    Packard Bell EasyNote TE69
    Price: £250 (£30 more)
    Processor: 1.4GHz x 2 (0.3 GHz x 2 less)
    RAM: 4GB DDR3 SDRAM (2GB more)
    Graphics: Integrated (same)
    Graphics RAM: DDR3 SDRAM (same)
    Hard Drive: 320GB (304GB more)

    Sources:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Samsung-Chromebook-XE303C12-A01UK-11-6-inch-Laptop/dp/B009RF0AQ8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1400523372&sr=8-2&keywords=Samsung+Chromebook+Series+5

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Packard-Bell-EasyNote-15-6-inch-Integrated/dp/B00IN2PXMM/ref=sr_1_20?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1400523513&sr=1-20

    http://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-E-Series-E1-1200-Notebook-Processor.73569.0.html

    • Boothy

      So, why are you on OMG chrome then?

      • Because I like and use Chrome and other great Google products – just not Chrome OS.

        Also there are people who rant about Arch being the best on OMG! Ubuntu! so I think I can rant about Ubuntu being the best on OMG! Chrome! :P

        • Boothy

          I put Ubuntu on my other (powerful) laptop. Took it off and went back to Windows 8.1. It was all round slower (especially booting), but the biggest fail was the battery life. 7 hours using Windows dropped to 2.5 hours on Ubuntu.

          • If you aren’t a legal cheapskate like me then that’s fine :) Personally I’d rather just plug the computer in and not pay for my software (since I have no money anyway).

            Also I get 5 hours on this old computer with Ubuntu. Try installing TLP next time to add an extra hour or so (that program manages your power better behind-the-scenes) and using LXDE (yes ActionParsnip, I am promoting LXDE just to save poewr :P ) instead of Unity, since LXDE is designed for those people who either have stupidly old computers, want an extremely fast user interface or want massive battery life.

            Also I have the patience for Ubuntu. Seems like others don’t…

          • Boothy

            Apart from the appalling battery life most linux distros offer, the biggest problem with gaining traction is they are not “casual user” friendly.
            Sure, I can use any linux distro, but give it to any of my family and friends and I’d be getting call after call. I get enough with them using Windows.
            Ask my Mum to get a terminal window open? No chance.
            ChromeOS doesn’t have that issue, turn on, login , go…………

          • Chrome OS:
            “[Boothy], I can’t print off my printer, help please.”
            “Erm, you can’t your printer to your Google Account. You need to buy a new one.”
            -_-

            Ubuntu:
            Hit `Super`. Type ‘Printer’. Press `Enter`. Click ‘Add’. Click the arrow to the left of ‘Network Printer’ (I agree, that’s not particularly intuitive and needs to be improved). Click the printer that you want in the dropdown (often the first one). Click ‘Forward’ a few times. Click ‘Apply’. Done.

            That’s pretty darn intuitive. And I’d be happy to help them out :) (Possibly with a few LMGTFY links until they learn to Google things).

    • David Li

      lol, you can NOT compare specs like that. For one, the chromebook is significantly slower because it uses an arm based processor. In exchange for that, it gets 7 hours of battery life, compared to the 3-4 hours of the Windows/Ubuntu pc. The chromebook also is much lighter, fanless, and will still be just as fast 5 years from now. Remember that OS’ such as Windows and Linux slow down over time and will eventually slow down to a crawl. Chrome, being basically a browser + a file manager + a desktop, should not slow down over time.

      • My Ubuntu installation has never noticeably slowed down thank you very much.

        • I assure you that your Ubuntu installation will slow down with coming upgrades. As graphics stacks require more and hardware support gets dropped, you’ll find Ubuntu to run much more slowly than it did when it was new. This happens with Ubuntu, Windows, OS X, and yes, even Chrome OS (CR-48 prototype is already starting to lag). One can’t escape the fact that technology gets outdated and software evolves beyond the hardware.

          Regarding the capabilities of Chrom[e/ium] OS, yes, it has an offline calculator to do your maths with. Also, yes, you have an offline image editor, look up Pixlr Editor. As for RTS games, they will be bound to come over sooner or later, be it a web-based port or Android app ported to Chrome OS now that the technology is there.

          Regarding the installing of Chromium OS:
          A: It’s designed to run on Chrome devices, not desktops. This is intentional, they do not want Chrom[e/ium] OS to replace your PC, but to compliment it.
          B: This is a flaw with new operating systems, you should wait until software is more widely available. When Windows was new in the late 80s and early 90s, there was the same exact problem: A calculator, clock, and a word processor; it took years for Windows to get the amount of software it has now.
          C: You can always compile Chromium OS and install it on your Chromebook manually if you “NEED” infinite upgrades, but there will come a time that it becomes unreasonable to support a five year old laptop.
          D: It uses a traditional desktop paradigm, and honestly, I prefer it. It makes it harder to accidentally close the entire window (navigation is far away from tabs) and easier to click things. If you notice the layout, a good majority of the frequently clicked items on the UI are aligned to the left of the screen, with the less-frequently used items aligned to the right of the screen.

          • Ubuntu probably will slow down with upgrades although my Xubuntu 14.10 PAE is fine on my 12-year-old laptop despite my having to upgrade it from Ubuntu 11.10 non-PAE minimal. That’s 3 upgrades already with the firmware stack changing frequently on the development branch and it works an absolute treat. I think people just need more patience, I’m in the generation that doesn’t know what dial-up and 1 minute webpage loading times are but I’m fine with my old laptop which is, according to you, ‘slowed down’. What’s the issue? Xubuntu is designed for older hardware so it slows the ‘software overtakes hardware’ paradigm massively. I could also always fallback to Xmonad which is just a window manager or Lubuntu which is even more lightweight, that’s a long way to go before my 12yo laptop dies.

            I agree that Chrome OS will be great soon re. offline apps etc… Java/CoffeeScript is amazing :D Unity 8 (approx. Ubuntu 16.04) will also heavily rely on JavaScript apps as well at Qt/QML ones.

            A: So they don’t want to replace my existing laptop/desktop? Then why would I want yet another device (a Chromebook)? What a waste of money!

            B: Yes but someone’s got to use the OS. And you’re basically supporting my argument that no-one should use it by what you’re saying because it’s too new.

            C: Erm, operating systems like Ubuntu have absolutely no problem supporting a 5-year-old laptop. Xubuntu supports my 12-year-old laptop fine. We need to get out of this stupid ‘Designed for the Dump’ capitalist attitude where we just assume that we can throw away all of our gadgets every couple of years and buy new ones. We have limited resources on this world, we can’t keep making new gadgets endlessly, not to mention all the damage that landfll sites do.

            D: You’d have to be VERY clumsy to close a window on Ubuntu rather than closing a tab and Firefox gives you a dialogue box before you close the browser with multiple tabs open anyway. The simple fact of the matter is that with Ubuntu it is quicker for me to navigate with a touchpad. Chrome OS is slower.

          • Good points made. I run Ubuntu 12.04 on my 12-year old PowerPC Power Mac G4, and at least it runs. The system is pretty slow when doing web browsing or using LibreOffice, but it still works. However, I don’t use it as more than a backup PC since it has much more modern successors.

    • JazzAzz

      Limited HD space my BUTT. My Acer C710-2487 has a 320G HD, way more than my Windows XP 160G HD purchased in 2006, that I still only use around 20+G on. I am not a collector of STUFF on a PC, preferring hard media, like my vinyl albums, CDs, real books, and such.

      • O.o I haven’t seen that one. That sounds much better (and only £192!!! It’s cheaper than the ones with a small hard drive!!!) Although there’s no Super key(?) which wouldn’t be very helpful for an Ubuntu setup (which you would need to get virtually infinite free upgrades).

    • You shouldn’t compare an ARM-based laptop to an Intel-based laptop. Try comparing the Acer C720 or the newer Toshiba Chromebook.

    • Vaykadji

      Battery life. period.

      • Extended battery pack that lasts 8 hours. Period.
        Also a lighter desktop environment that is kinder to the battery than Chrome OS Aura.

        • Vaykadji

          yeah because carrying around another battery is really light and convenient.

          • No, I’m not carrying out another battery, it’s just a slightly larger one that lasts longer :P

            And geez, it adds an extra few grams, I’m a nerd and I don’t think that’s heavy! :D

  • fatlip

    5 years??? Awesome! That should be about the same time I get my Chromebook 2 from Samsung.

  • Smallwheels

    I didn’t know there was a limit to the support for Chrome OS. Five years seems a bit low. If they would continue security updates for longer than five years that would be reasonable.

    Right now I’m typing this on a 2009 HP desktop machine running Elementary OS (a GNU/Linux variant of Ubuntu). This machine functions fine but it is getting slow with only 2 GB RAM. The chip is near the bottom of the line for 2009. This computer wasn’t used very often until the end of 2012. It was a backup machine that ran Windoz. If it still ran the junk that is named Vista, Microsux would still be sending security updates to it.

    My hardware has had only about two years of use. It wasn’t designed for the web as it is today. I do believe web pages have more stuff added to them all of the time. Which makes this machine seem slower and slower. Native programs run fine and fast. It is the internet that makes this hardware seem clunky. How will a machine running Chrome OS handle such changes in six years? It is after all an internet device. This also brings up the question; how much data can be stuffed into a web page?

    In Google Drive I have a couple of mostly text files that are over 1000 pages long. One of them is over 1600 pages. Even with a consistent download speed of 15 Mbps it takes forever to load either of these files. Scrolling them is almost impossible. When they are loaded locally they scroll and load just fine. I love the concept of cloud computing. It just isn’t all the way there.

    Without ongoing support for older machines it seems that when support ends the Chrome OS machine owners will either need to load an alternative OS or throw them away. They might be too slow to even function on the web in six years. Maybe by then there will be a ton of programs that will work offline.

  • ClairelyClaire

    Not gonna lie – this is kind of lame. Windows mainstream support may be for only five years, but it’s not device-dependent. As long as Google is developing ChromeOS, I’m not sure they’re justified in ending support for specific models. That’s what Apple does, and it’s incredibly frustrating when you can’t update to the newest OS X because Apple said so, even if the hardware technically supports the minimum system requirements.

    • usernameavailability01001

      Use GNU/Linux.

  • usernameavailability01001

    Bad for the environment. Use gnu/linux

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