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Google extends Chrome OS device lifespan by a year

Chromebooks and Chromeboxes now will get software support for five years. This could make it easier for businesses and schools buy them.

The HP Chromebook 14 will get Chrome OS updates through at least November 2018.
The HP Chromebook 14 will get Chrome OS updates through at least November 2018. James Martin/CNET

Google on Friday committed to support software on Chrome OS devices for at least five years after their release, an extra year over what it had previously promised.

"EOL [end-of-life] dates...will be at least a minimum of 5 years from launch of the hardware," Google said on an updated Chrome OS device support site.

"Well played, Google!" said Brendon Tiller, an associate technology coordinator at Jackson City Schools who was notified of the extended lifespan, in a Google+ comment.

Chrome OS, a challenger to Microsoft Windows and Apple OS X, is a browser-based operating system that runs Web apps like Google Docs and Gmail rather than native apps like Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Word. It's offered built into laptops called Chromebooks, compact desktops called Chromeboxes, and all-in-ones from LG Electronics called Chromebases.

Although Chrome OS devices aren't able to run the full breadth of software as an ordinary PC, they are inexpensive, immune to Windows viruses, and updated every six weeks as Google releases a new version of Chrome OS. That can make them well suited to schools, businesses, and homes where people need basic machines for things like email, Web-based forms, Facebook, and educational videos.

A four-year lifespan is tolerable, but many businesses and schools keep devices around longer than that. Microsoft just stopped updating Windows XP, but 13 years after its debut, Windows XP remains in widespread use. Extending Chrome OS's lifespan could make it more appealing to customers that are performing return-on-investment calculations.

For example, the HP Chromebook 14 previously was guaranteed to get support through November 2017, but now support will last through November 2018.

Corrected at 12:33 p.m. May 17 to reflect the fact that Chrome OS is updated every six weeks.

(Via Francis Beaufort)

Google's Chrome OS support lifespan for various Chrome OS devices
Google's Chrome OS support lifespan for various Chrome OS devices. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET