To deliver updates past end-of-life, Google plans to separate Chrome and Chrome OS updates

Themes are wonderful
Themes are wonderful (Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google is working on a new project that would let it deliver Chrome browser updates to EOL Chromebooks.
  • Currently, EOL Chromebooks are cut off from updates to both the Chrome OS operating system and the Chrome browser itself.
  • This new policy would fix that, but it'll take a while before it's implemented.

Google is working on a fix to one of Chrome OS's biggest issues, its end of life policy. Typically, Chromebooks are supported for a maximum of eight years from release date (not purchase date). This means that if you were to purchase a Pixelbook from today, you'd have less supported time than if you did so last year.

While it sounds like the policy for Android phones worldwide, unlike with Android, however, losing access to Chrome OS updates means you also lose access to updates for the Chrome browser on hardware that can more than likely run the browser with ease. It also sets Chromebooks aside from other older Windows and macOS PCs which will still be able to run said browser versions. A dubious distinction for a platform that still remains on shaky ground.

According to a report by 9to5Google the company's handling it with a new project known as "LaCros." In a conversation explaining the project, a Google developer said: "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."

In essence, this project is devised to allow Google to ship Chrome browser updates independent of Chrome OS updates. If your Chromebook has reached its end-of-life, it'll be no biggie. You'll still be able to receive the newest builds of the browser, as per the report.

As Google's current update strategy stands, older devices — even with working hardware — won't be able to take advantage of Chrome's newest features. While on the one hand, one could argue that they don't explicitly lose any functionality. On the other hand, many websites demand users to be running the latest version of Chrome for security reasons. No matter how you slice it, losing access to Chrome on a Chromebook isn't an ideal situation, and it's good Google's taking a look at it.

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Michael Allison