There was a time that I was a voice in the wilderness that heralded a strong defense for Google’s relatively short Auto Update Policy for Chrome OS. End of Life policy if you prefer. Three years into this and I have conceded that it is time for a change. Chromebooks are coming into their own and the average price for a decent device has nearly doubles. If you really wanted to, you could drop nearly $2,000 on a Chrome Enterprise machine and that gives me a serious pause when I consider it may only get updates for 5-6 years.
Okay, before we get too far off into the weeds, we’ll put a pin in this and circle back around after we’ve discuss this weeks findings. Over the weekend, we shared some deals on a couple of MediaTek-based Lenovo Chromebooks. While the prices were great, one of the most common complaints we see in comments is the End of Life date for these devices. These are legitimate concerns when you’re dropping your hard-earned money on a new anything. Price is generally relative to the value of a thing. If you give me a brand new Chromebook and tell me it’s only $100, great. If you then tell me that it will cease to receive updates in six months, I’m probably going to take a hard pass. Sure, it’s only a hundred bucks but I can spend a couple of hundred more and get a device that will last three, four or even five years.
Lenovo has done a great job of getting some great mileage out of the MediaTek MT8173 SoC but at the end of the day, all of these Chromebooks were built off of the same platform. According to Google’s Auto Update Policy, the End of Life for all of them is to be based on the original device.
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.Google Support
That means that Lenovo’s (or any other manufacturer that produces a MediaTek device built on the same baseboard) latest S330 Chromebook has the same End of Life as the original Chromebook Flex 11. The latter was released two and a half years ago. Consumers don’t particularly like buying a Chromebook that was launched less than a year ago just to find out that the End of Life date is a short, three years away. That was the exact case for these Lenovo Chromebooks. Until recently that is.
We have, on multiple occasions, pointed out the upcoming EOL dates on these Chromebooks. While they’re often a steal, we want our readers to be aware of what they’re buying. If we ever forget to point this out, forgive us. Thankfully, I get to be the bearer of good news today. While looking at Google’s Auto Update Policy page this weekend, I noticed that the dates for a number of these MediaTek devices had changed.
I’ve uncovered eight Chromebooks in all including seven Lenovos and the oddball Poin2 Chromebook 14. All of these devices were once slated for End of Life around June of 2022. Three years. Not that bad but still, some of these Chromebook have been on shelves for less than 12 months. That being said, Google has changed the date to June of 2025. Talk about a stay of execution.
Now, the caveats.
These devices have an extended AUE date; however, providing updates beyond June 2023 is subject to certain limitations including reliance on third party component suppliers. Google will work with suppliers in an effort to ensure continued support.Google Support
Here’s the full list of devices with the extended AUE dates:
- Flex 11 Chromebook
- 100e Chromebook 2nd Gen MTK
- N23 Yoga Chromebook
- 300e Chromebook
- 300e Chromebook 2nd Gen MTK
- Ideapad S330 Chromebook
- Ideapad C330 Chromebook
- Poin2 Chromebook 14
So, this extends the life of these Chromebooks way out. This isn’t something we’ve seen from Google, ever. At one point, the Auto Update Policy was updated from 5 to 6.5 years but this adds that amount of time to these Chromebooks based more closely on their release date as opposed to their platform launch. Could this be a sign of things to come?
There has been a lot of scuttlebutt around the world of Chrome OS about Google taking a fresh look at the AUE policy. With devices costing over a thousand dollars at times, the expectation of a longer support cycle is quickly becoming the common consensus and I tend to agree. Being that Chrome OS lives as one, unified Stable release, there aren’t the concerns of which model supports what version. The late-gen devices on the market are powerful enough to offer 7-10 years of reliable use if Google and the Chromium OS developers are willing to keep them updated. I understand that there would be exceptions as technology continues to evolve but the cloud-centric nature of Chrome OS allows a lot of the work to be offloaded from the local machine which means a device that capable today should be capable a decade from now.
Anyway, the long and short of it is that these MediaTek Chromebooks just got a new lease on life and that makes them much more of a value than they were just a few weeks ago. Picking up a Chromebook that performs well enough for the casual user that will do so for 5+ years and do it for around $250 is a big win for the consumer Chrome OS market. That’s my two cents. Hopefully, this will be a new trend for Chrome OS and Google will continue evolving the policy.