If you shop for a new Chromebook, you’re probably noticing great pricing on older refurbished models. But when browsing different models of Chromebooks online, there’s something that most product pages aren’t mentioning. And it’s important if you’re using Chromebooks in an education or enterprise capacity.
Google gives Chromebooks a 6.5 year shelf life for receiving automatic updates for Chrome OS. The policy is laid out in the Chromebook Auto Update Expiration (AUE): the countdown for support starts when the manufacturer releases the “hardware platform”—or what regular people call a specific model of Chromebook. Like ASUS Transformer Pad (2015), Dell Venue 10, and so forth.
Chrome OS support is a big deal for business and education users, who rely on the management and security features built into that support.
What happens to Chromebooks post-AUE?
If you’re the IT administrator in charge of managing Chrome devices, one of the big selling points are the management features that Google’s Chromium developers build into the OS. You buy Chromebooks for school or business deployments and you get more than a half-decade of security patches, once every two months, for free, from Chromium developers. A device used after AUE impacts these Chromebook management features.
- You may find you cannot manage devices as expected with the Google Admin console.
- Devices may become ineligible for full support from Google Cloud and Google Play for Education.
- You may find you’re not receiving content pushed from Google Play for Education.
- Automatic Chrome OS security updates may not install properly.
5 Best Chromebooks (by Newegg reviews) + AUE dates
|ASUS C302 Chromebook Flip C302CA||Nov. 2022|
|Acer Chromebook 14||Jun. 2021|
|ASUS C201PA-DS02-LG||Jun. 2021|
|ASUS C300||Aug. 2019|
|SAMSUNG Chromebook Plus XE||Jun. 2020|
Chromebooks reaching AUE in 2018
|Asus Transformer Pad (2015)||May 2018|
|Dell Venue 10||May 2018|
|HP Pro Slate 10||May 2018|
|HP Chromebook 11 G1||Oct. 2018|
|Chromebook Pixel||Jun. 2018|
|HP Pavilion Chromebook 14||Feb. 2018|
|Lenovo Thinkpad X131e||Jun. 2018|
|Samsung XE303||Jul. 2018|
Chromebook support vs Windows support:
Windows doesn’t tie support to individual hardware platforms like Google does for Chrome devices. Microsoft treats applications and its operating system more like a subscription service, and stops support for the software after a set length of time, regardless of the device. For example, Windows 10 Professional releases updates (new “versions” of Windows 10) a few times a year, which must be installed to keep devices secure and supported. As long as your Windows 10 device meets minimum requirements, and you install updates before the previous version expires, it’s no problem.
Additionally, business customers who buy Windows 10 Enterprise and Education receive an extra six months to install the most recent version. This helps accommodate organizations with large fleets of computers who are traditionally more conservative in rolling out updates.
How to make sure your new laptop is supported for the entire lifecycle
The point of contrasting the Google Chrome method of hardware support against the Windows offering is to illustrate how both accommodate end users in a meaningful way. That is, if you’re realistic about the lifecycle of inexpensive laptop computers and devices when creating your procurement process.
The vast majority of new Chromebooks cost consumers between $200 and $400. You can find comparably priced Windows laptops that deliver similar performance specifications. Unless you’re editing video, working in software development, or running scientific modeling programs either will suffice admirably. Both will run standard office applications of digital learning software just fine in a day-to-day capacity.
Windows and Chrome OS support guidelines are different—but this is a non-issue in a business setting where, most likely, you’re replacing laptops in a five year lifecycle. Think about it—if you’re using a $400 laptop for over four years, that’s pretty good value regardless of whether the computer falls out of support, or inevitably grows sluggish with age.
So, the takeaway is this: Because Google Chrome support is tied to the manufacturer release date for the hardware platform, when you buy a Chromebook for business or for classroom use, it’s best to buy new and benefit from a longer period of support.