Google’s Chromebooks — a favorite tech option for schools and educators — are getting a lifespan extension, as Google announces new automatic updates intended to make the devices last up to a decade.
Google calls the decade-long policy the longest commitment to maintaining a device among any operating system, and it represents a significant upgrade for a large portion of the affordable laptop offering’s user base. An April report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund found that doubling Chromebooks’ lifespans through measures like extending built-in software expiration dates could result in $1.8 billion in savings for schools serving more than 48 million K-12 students across the U.S.
Planned obsolescence combined with the difficulty of affordable repairs has created a cycle of wasted technology and sunken costs, Education Week reported.
But now, starting in 2024, Google Chromebooks will be guaranteed 10 years of automatic software updates intended to extend the device’s expiration dates.
“If you have Chromebooks that were released from 2021 onwards, you’ll automatically get 10 years of updates,” the company wrote in its announcement. “For Chromebooks released before 2021 and already in use, users and IT admins will have the option to extend automatic updates to 10 years from the platform’s release (after they receive their last automatic update).”
The updates apply to select “platforms,” or series of hardware and software components selected by the Chromebook’s manufacturer. These selections differ based on model and brand, such as an HP Chromebook or a Lenovo Chromebook, and the 10-year update guarantee won’t be applied to all features and services for pre-2021 devices.
In addition to the new policy, Google will be updating its Chromebook Repair Program to address educational demands for quicker and more efficient device repairs. “Our new repair flows allow authorized repair centers and school technicians to repair Chromebooks without a physical USB key,” Google explains. “This reduces the time required for software repairs by over 50 percent and limits time away from the classroom.”
Chromebook administrators can find more information about the updates on the Auto Update policy page in Google’s Help Center, or via the Admin Console or Chromebook settings.