For the second time this year, Chrome OS has rolled out a milestone release only to have it paused due to underlying bugs in the software. The last time this happened was when the long-overdue Chrome OS 80 release launched in early March. Roughly 12 hours after it launched, the update server was rolled back to version 79 while whatever issues it contained were addressed. The only bug we were able to locate in that release was one that affected the behavior of the Files App. Whatever the hangup, version 80 was added back to the update server just a few short hours after the rollback took place.
This time around, it looks like the latest milestone release has caused a variety of problems ranging from busted Crostini containers to USB-C ports being janky. Another bug that is currently being addressed by developers revolves around the updated “What’s New” feature for Chrome OS. After an update, you normally get a toast notification tipping you to what’s new in this update. Numerous reports from users state that clicking “what’s new” immediately crashes their devices. The “what’s new” feature is curated specifically to the Chromebook you’re using and it looks like that may be part of the issue. For now, developers are removing device-specific release notes from “What’s New” as a first step in identifying and squashing this but.
Generally, when an update is paused, it doesn’t affect the masses and you can continue using the latest OS version with little or no issues. Unfortunately, this update appears to have rampant problems that run the gamut and therefore is having an impact on a lot of Chromebook users. If you are one of these users and your device is giving you fits, you have a couple of options to get your Chromebook back to Chrome OS 80. Note: Either of these methods WILL powerwash your device and erase any local data. If you have anything you don’t want to lose, move it to your Google Drive or a flash drive.
The “official” method to flash a new image to your Chromebook requires using the Chromebook Recovery Utility. It works and it is the “preferred” method. We’ve covered it multiple times on the site but in case you would like that path, you can find those steps here. The other way is my preferred method and that is to simply move up channels and then back to Stable. Again, this will still wipe your device. SAVE YOUR STUFF! Now, normally you could just move to Beta and back to Stable. However, most devices are on 81 in the Beta channel as well. So, you will actually need to move to the Developer Channel. (Do not confuse this with Developer Mode. You will not be removing verified boot or making your device non-secure. Promise.)
To make the move, head to the settings menu in the bottom right of your device. Click the gear icon to open the settings. Click “About Chrome OS” at the bottom of the left-hand menu. Click “Additional Details” and then select “change channel.” Select “Developer – Unstable” and confirm you want to update. After a few minutes, you will be prompted to restart your Chromebook and then you will be in the Developer Channel. Now, to get back to Stable, follow the above steps and select “Stable” to move back. This is when the powerwash will happen. Once you’re finished, your Chromebook should be back to factory and on Stable version 80. Hopefully, developers are quickly addressing the bugs in 81 and we can get back to the newest version ASAP.