I’m currently in the process of reviewing the Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook Plus and a very strange thing occurred this morning as I sat down to write: all my Chromebook Plus features vanished. Checking around a bit, I realized I could no longer call up my cool, new camera tricks when needed, my Chromebook Plus wallpapers were nowhere to be found, and the same goes for the exclusive screen savers. It was all just gone.
Turn it off, turn it on
My first thought was to simply restart. I left my Chromebook at the desk Wednesday evening and it was in deep sleep when I arrived this morning. While I don’t think that’s an excuse for core OS features to go away, I thought maybe something got messed up in the 36 hours it had been left idle and I figured a simple power down, power up would solve things. Though the Chromebook Plus boot screen appeared, my exclusive features did not.
Check for updates
Next, I thought maybe there was a bug and perhaps an incremental update could come along and fix things. Again, there was no update waiting and no updates have come in since the 119 release about 10 days ago. With a reboot not working and no updates to be found, I figured the next step was a full-blown Powerwash.
A forced Powerwash saves the day
So, I headed to my settings, searched “Powerwash”, and began the process. After telling the Chromebook that I did in fact want to start fresh, I sat back and waited for the cool, new animated Chromebook Plus boot screen to meet me. Until it didn’t.
Instead, I was brought back to the log-in screen where my PIN was requested. Sometimes this happens with a Powerwash and after logging in a second time, things get rolling. That was not the case. I put in my PIN, waited for a minute, and nothing happened. I was simply logged back into my non-Chromebook Plus device again. And I was beginning to get a bit worried.
Nevertheless, I logged out of the device and used the keyboard shortcut for a manual Powerwash from the lock screen (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+R) and this time, the Powerwash actually went through. After about a minute, that sweet Chromebook Plus animation greeted me, I logged in, and all my Chromebook Plus exclusives were right where I left them.
This is not a good look from Google
While that was a bit of a playful take on the process I went through this morning, in no way do I want to come across as if I think this is fine. In no realm of reality should this be a thing, and I’m more than a bit concerned that this is happening to Chromebook users on a wide scale. Those that don’t know about Powerwashing from the lock screen are going to just be stuck without the Chromebook Plus upgrades they’ve been promised for 2 months at this point?
And what about all the Chromebooks that are being bought for gifts that will be distributed next month? There are no scheduled updates before January, so if this problem stays as-is, who knows how many new Chromebooks will get unboxed and set up only to not have Chromebook Plus features working out of the box.
For a hardware/software platform whose selling point is simplicity for the end user, this isn’t a good look. I don’t know what is going on, exactly, but something with ChroemOS 119 seems a bit off. I wrote last week about the new Chrome browser’s ability to really leverage Material You’s color theming, and after this Powerwash, my browser went back to the pre-119 version and those new Chrome features are gone, too. I know there are experimental flags to get it all back, but what gives?
Hopefully we have an incremental update on the way to solve this issue before Christmas rolls around. We really need to see these little bugs squashed before a bunch of new users dive head-first into the world of ChromeOS. But above all else, we really don’t need big, new, advertised features simply disappearing without a trace. If it happens to you, I hope you find this post, and I hope the method I used works for you, too.