It’s an acknowledged problem with the mobile phone industry and particularly within the Android ecosystem, that the operating system support on a typical device can persist for far too short a time, leaving the user without critical security updates. With the rise of the Chromebook, this has moved into larger devices, with schools and other institutions left with piles of what’s essentially e-waste.
Now in a rare show of sense from a tech company, Google have announced that Chromebooks are to receive ten years of updates from next year. Even better, it seems that this will be retroactively applied to at least some older machines, allowing owners to opt in to further updates for the remainder of the decade following the machine’s launch.
Of course, a Chrome OS upgrade on an older machine won’t make it any quicker. We’re guessing many users will feel the itch up upgrade their hardware long before their decade of software support is up. But anything which saves e-waste has to be applauded, and since this particular scribe has a five-year-old ASUS Transformer just out of support, we’re hoping for a chance to jump back on that train.
There’s another question though, and it relates to the business model behind Chromebooks. We doubt that the hardware manufacturers are thrilled at their customers’ old machines receiving a new lease of life and we doubt Google are doing this through sheer altruism, so we’re guessing that the financial justification comes from an extra five years of making money from the users’ data.