GOOGLE HAS ANNOUNCED that it is extending the lifecycle of Chromebooks to five years, up from the original four.
This means that Google will support all minimalist notebooks that use the fledgling Chrome operating system for five years, including the original reference prototype, the Google Cr-48.
Although Chromebooks are still the bulk of the Chrome OS ecosystem, Google hasn't ignored Chromeboxes, saying these will also have a five year lifecycle.
Google emphasised that with one or two exceptions this is a minimum commitment to the machines. It represents a balance between the cost of maintaining security compatibility with many components and the fact that Google wants the Chrome OS experiment to last long enough to establish a foothold.
If a machine running Chrome OS expires after a few years, who is to say that the user won't become a statistic of churn, returning to Windows or branching out into Linux? On the other hand, if it doesn't break for five years, longer than the average life expectancy of either Windows or Mac machines, there'll be no need to fix it.
Exceptions to the rule are few, but Google said that it will stop supporting the Samsung Series 5 in June 2016.
Five years is a long time for any laptop, given the rate of change in the industry. But what seems reassuring is that, with the exception of the aforementioned Samsung, none of these dates is carved in stone.
Unlike the recent end of Windows XP support, in which there was absolutely no turning back, apart from that one zero-day flaw where Microsoft slipped out a patch, the Google End of Life policy is much softer.
Google said, "When a device reaches End of Life (EOL), it means that the product model is considered obsolete and automatic software updates from Google are no longer guaranteed."
Stating intent appears to be one thing that Google is doing by halves with the Chromebook, so perhaps everybody wins. µ