Google announced a big change to Chromebooks that could help them last a few years longer. Starting in 2024, ChromeOS devices will be eligible to receive automatic security updates for 10 years after their release. Chromebooks released in 2021 or later will all receive the updates; those who own older products will have the option to turn them on.
The company currently guarantees eight years of automatic updates to Chromebooks. That period, however, begins at the time when the company certifies a Chromebook, not when it’s actually in the owner’s hands. Because of the time it takes schools and businesses to purchase, receive, set up, and deploy new fleets of computers, they commonly end up getting four to five years of use out of them in practice.
A report called “Chromebook Churn,” published by the US Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, sparked a lot of discussion around the environmental impact of ChromeOS in the education space earlier this year. It estimated that “doubling the lifespan of Chromebooks could result in $1.8 billion in savings for taxpayers.” While two additional years isn’t doubling, it’s certainly a step in the right direction that could save customers money and reduce their e-waste.
Google also notes in its press release that “even if a Chromebook is no longer receiving automatic updates, it still comes with strong, built-in security features.”
Google says it’s also rolling out updates to its Chromebook repair program that will allow technicians to make software fixes without a physical USB key. The company estimates that this will make software repairs faster by “over 50%.”
Additional features to improve energy efficiency will roll out in the coming months, including adaptive charging (which has been available in Canary for some time) to preserve battery health and a new Energy Saver mode.