Even as Bill Nye, Science guy shills Chromebook, the platform has a flaw that limits the usefulness of even newly purchased Chromebooks for users who intend to hold on to their laptops for more than a few years.

Google originally built Chrome OS as an operating system which would power, disposable laptops. Users could use a Chromebook and if it broke, switch to another one with ease. The specific hardware you were using didn’t matter, and it was fast and easy to stay updated — with one exception.

If your Chromebook was running on a hardware platform Google viewed as too old, the firm would stop delivering updates to it. The date where this end of life cutoff period was not determined by the sell date or even the launch date of the device. Rather, it was by the launch date of the hardware platform and SOC that powered the device. This means that all Chromebooks launched with Intel’s N3160 processor have the same cutoff date — regardless of when they launched.

According to Google’s Chromebook support page:

Google provides each new hardware platform with 6.5 years of Auto Update support. Multiple devices can share the same hardware platform. The 6.5 years starts when the first device on the platform is released(1). Manufacturers are advised to choose the newest platforms to ensure that they produce devices that have the longest Auto Update support available

What this means is that every Chromebook sold today is essentially attached to a ticking timebomb. Due to the nature of Chrome OS, this is more severe than it appears at first. While a Windows 7 User on an old laptop may continue to use new versions of Google Chrome, a Chromebook produced in 2012 would be past its end of life and unable to receive any feature or security updates to the Chrome platform. Microsoft may stop updating your Windows PC after a decade or so, but you’ll probably be able to stay on the latest browser versions. Not so with Google.

With Google shifting Chromebooks from cheap, disposable cloud machines to ones on which serious computing can be done with the aid of Linux and Android apps, one has to wonder whether the firm needs to rethink this short-sighted support policy sooner rather than later.

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