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Chromebook End of Life

An image meant to represent the EOL of Chromebook devices - image generated with the assistance of Dall-E3

What are Chromebooks

Chromebooks are portable computing devices similar to laptops that run on the Chrome operating system or Chromeos. These were originally designed to be lightweight (in terms of specs) devices that are meant for rudimentary online-centric tasks such as browsing the web and consuming web-based media streaming services (basically anything that you can do with a web browser or with a browser plug-in) so the demand for high processing power and RAM was not so high. Cloud storage was also pushed for these devices which meant that storage space could be as little as 16 GB. Admittedly, Chromebooks have since come a long way from these initial use cases, but these were the primary market when it was first conceptualized. They have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their affordability, simplified user interface, and increasing capabilities such as getting access to Android and Linux applications. 

What spurned the development of Chromebooks

One can argue that the failure of the Netbook concept (similar target market and emphasis on affordability and scaled-down specs but was based on the Windows operating system) paved the way for other technologies to emerge with the same premise or were aimed at the frustrations of consumers with the underpowered devices, notably the rise of more capable mobile phone hardware and tablets which typically also runs on a mobile phone OS, the ultrabook standard initiated by Intel which went the opposite direction by setting a minimum performance bar most likely borne from the frustration of having prohibitively underpowered netbook hardware which can hardly accomplish anything especially when the next version of the Windows operating system started to roll out, and Chromebooks which striped down the functionality of your typical laptop to only those that can be done in a web browser.

Why do equipment manufacturers assign an end-of-life to Chromebook devices? 

One thing to note regarding all Chromebooks is that they all have an expiration date or "end of life/ end of support" (EOL/EOS) date assigned by the manufacturer. This planned obsolescence is good for OEMs and Google since each new update of the operating system needs to be thoroughly tested in all of the models that are currently being supported. This support model is more akin to mobile handsets (although I understand that most mobile phone manufacturers commit to supporting X number of major OS releases rather than a fixed number of years) than to say computers.  

This support window has increased over the years and with the new Chromebook Plus branding these have increased further to a select line of hardware. #tobeverified

It is not such a good thing though for unsuspecting individuals who may have picked up a Chromebook device in the bargain bin of their favorite computer retailer only to find out that the machine they have just bought only gets a year's left in updates. 

That's why care must be taken when buying older models so you know exactly what you are getting into and don't get buyer's remorse. This is also true for educational institutions that purchase computing devices. To make things worse, repairability of these devices is usually difficult and it's not just a matter of swapping a more powerful processor or adding more disk space or RAM. There's also the environmental impact as some news sources point out if these obsolete and un-upgradeable machines end up being thrown away. 

In a recent blog post, the ChromeOS team has promised a guaranteed 10-year update lifetime for these devices to address these very issues that have been pointed out. 

Can you use Chromebooks beyond their expiration date? 

The quick answer is a resounding YES! But there are caveats. When your device reaches its end of life, it doesn't mean that it will suddenly won't turn on. It simply means that both the manufacturer and Google who updates the operating system side will no longer be pushing updates to your device. Play Store and Linux applications can still be updated though so you shouldn't worry about that. There are a few important things to keep in mind however and these are related to the areas of security, compatibility, and general performance.   


Security is probably the number one reason why you would like to keep your Chromebook up to date. It seems that there is a constant stream of news articles related to the discovery of new vulnerabilities and hence more ways in which malicious parties can compromise your system. To thwart these attempts, manufacturers release security patches to plug these security holes. When a Chromebook reaches its EOL, it will no longer receive these security patches, leaving it vulnerable to future security vulnerabilities. Since in ChromeOS, the browser is basically the main user interface itself, the Chrome browser won't be able to receive much-needed patches. There is an initiative by Google to decouple the Chrome browser from the ChromeOS and this will enable them to push security patches to the browser independent of the OS updates (codenamed Lacros) much like any other application in the Play Store or like Linux apps. 


Operating systems evolve over time and ChromeOS has one of the most consistent update cycles out there for an operating system - every 4 weeks at the time of the writing of this article. As new software and apps are developed, they are designed to work with the most current features of the operating system and they may not work properly if the device is not up to date. If your Chromebook is no longer receiving regular updates, it may fall behind in terms of compatibility with newer software, making it less useful.


Over time, your Chromebook may start to show its age and not run as well as when you first bought it. Battery health deteriorates over time and newer applications demand more computing power from your hardware. Software updates often come with code optimization and bug fixes to make sure that your machine runs as well as it can despite the older hardware. Regular updates can help to address these issues and a Chromebook that is no longer receiving software updates and security patches will not have access to these performance enhancements.

When purchasing a new Chromebook and even if you are already using one, it is important to be mindful of the EOL of your Chromebook so that you know what to expect or can plan for a replacement in anticipation of its obsolescence. Some manufacturers will publish the EOL of a particular model on its website but retailers and third-party e-commerce sites may be less forthcoming. If you are already a proud owner of a Chromebook, you can check the EOL date on the device. The notification will also prompt you well in advance that the end of life of your device is upcoming. In general, it's a good idea to plan for a replacement before this happens. 

In conclusion, the end of life of a Chromebook can greatly impact its usefulness by compromising its security, compatibility, and performance. It's important to always be mindful of the EOL of your device and plan for a replacement well in advance to ensure that you have a fully functional, secure, and reliable device.

Related Content: Chromebooks and ChromeOS devices in general are slowly shaping up to be the all-in-one device you will ever need

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