Chrome OS has made major strides over the past couple of years in the way of extending the life of devices. Moving forward, Chromebooks on newer platforms will get no less than 8 years of updates from Google and older devices have even seen an extension on their End of Life dates. These updates are great for schools and institutions and they add a lot of value factors to Chrome OS in general. However, the fact remains that many Chromebooks are still perfectly capable devices long after they have reached their AUE end of life date.
A perfect example is my mint-condition 2013 Google Chromebook Pixel. It’s a beautiful piece of hardware with a processor that’s more than powerful enough to still run Chrome OS like a boss. Unfortunately, it stopped receiving updates nearly two years ago and that means no new features or security updates. Still, I have it on my end table and I do enjoy writing from it on occasion. It would be nice if it still updated on some level for the sake of security. Thanks to a recent discovery by 9to5Google’s Kyle Bradshaw, that ability may become a reality.
Chrome OS has already separated the browser on OS settings on Chromebooks and now, updates could very well be handled independently. Codenamed ‘LaCrOS’, the feature would essentially treat the Chrome Browser on Chrome OS the same way it does on other systems with an independent build made for Chromebooks instead of the browser being fully dependent on Chrome OS updates. The full details of the purpose behind the project are still unclear but one developer mentions part of the motive behind the update in the comments of one of the LaCrOS commits:
From what I understand, one of the motivations for LaCrOS is that it makes chrome-for-chromeos more like chrome for other systems, where we ship a binary for that os built like we (browser team) want, independent of the toolchain of the os.
I’m not 100% convinced that this means Chromebooks will continue to get browser updates after End of Life but it certainly does appear that’s that case and that’s a huge deal. Having a premium Chromebook around that has “expired” doesn’t make it any easier to let go of it. I certainly wouldn’t toss my Pixel in the trash. Getting updates to the Chrome browser would not only give me some of Chrome’s latest features, but it would also add a degree of security that you simply don’t get on an out of date Chromebook. I have checked the Canary channel but the LaCrOS flag has yet to pop up. I will be keeping an eye out for this one and may even move my Pixel over to Canary in the hopes of checking it out if and when the feature arrives.