Google offers at least 5 years of support for every Chromebook, which means that users should get regular security and feature updates for half a decade (the clock starts ticking the day a Chromebook is released, not the day you buy it).

Compared with Android smartphones, that looks pretty good. Compared to Windows computers? Not so much. You can install Windows 10 on a system from 10 years ago without much fuss.

As I mentioned earlier this year, now that Chrome OS has been around a while, it’s becoming clear that some older Chromebooks are still alive and ticking… even if they’ll never receive another software update. The latest case in point? Google has just ended support for its first-gen Chromebook Pixel.

As noted by Droid Life, folks who are still using the first Google device with the word “Pixel” in the name are starting to see a notification letting them know that “This device will no longer receive the latest software updates. Please consider upgrading.”

To be clear, Google is suggesting users upgrade hardware, not software. There is no officially supported path for upgrading the software on an old Chromebook after it’s reached the end of life date… at least not yet.

If you spent $200 on a Chromebook with entry-level specs, that might not seem like much of a problem. But if you spent $1000 or more on a high-end model like the Chromebook Pixel, it’s a slightly tougher pill to swallow.

Despite having launched in 2013, the first-gen Chromebook Pixel still has pretty decent specs even by today’s standards, including a 2560 x 1700 pixel touchscreen display, an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and at least 32GB of storage. If it weren’t for the end of software support, it’d still be a perfectly usable device.

It’s worth noting that Google actually gave users a few extra months: the automatic update expiration date for this model was actually June, 2018. But that reprieve has ended.

In the future Chromebook users who want to continue using unsupported hardware may have another option: it looks like Google may be adding dual boot support to Chromebooks, which means that it may become easier to install Windows (or maybe another Linux-based operating system) on a Chromebook and keep using it after Google stops issuing updates.

Of course, you could also theoretically continue using Chrome OS after support ends, but without regular updates you’re leaving yourself open to exploits for unpatched security vulnerabilities or web content based on new standards that won’t render properly in older versions of Chrome.

 



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8 replies on “Google ends support for the original Chromebook Pixel”

  1. My son got a 2018 HP chromebook 11 G6 as freshman in high school. He will have the same device for all 4 years (unless it breaks first). The 5 year support cycle may be related to high school students (probably the single largest users of chromebooks).

  2. That is really sad, especialy considering it is probably the fastest Chromebook out there in terms of CPU.
    Personaly I do not see a reason for end of support, what is the problem here? It’s not like it’s anything special, it’s just old Core i5 – nothing exotic.

    1. It would be a little less straight forward, but they would probably be better off basing the range of support off the capability of the processor since, as you suggest, an i5 ages a lot better than, say the Samsung Exynos 5 used in the original Samsung ARM Chromebook or more recent OP1 will. A more capable processor(and thus a presumably more expensive device should get a proportionally longer span of support). That way you can truly get what you pay for whether the return of investment is short or long term ($200 or less for a disposable travel laptop or $500 or more for something you plan to have around a while).

  3. I’m not really sure why this is an issue. I’ve rarely had any device that is supported for more than a few years from the manufacturer. I purchased a Dell XPS a few years back and they stopped updating the drivers after I had the thing for 2 years. Sure, I could go out and update everything myself and Windows was still giving security updates, but I was still on my own after a couple of years. How is this really all the different? You can still install Chromium on these or other OSes. But Google is giving you a complete OS and driver update from the date of release for 5 years.

  4. Reading the “please consider upgrading” is pathetic. As you state Brad, either Microsoft are idiots or Google are just a bunch of you-know-whats. People should stand against this because if you look at those specs, this is a complete DS (dog something) situation that’s only excusable because people are so complacent. The question is this. Why? Ask Google why such a powerful computer needs to see the landfill. It can’t even be shipped to a third world country for those people to make use of. What an amazing ability to dictate the life of a product. Vehicles will be next. The Google car will expire after 6 years. It’s called renewable income. Idiots support this ecosystem and practice. Doubt this? Read again the specs of this Chromebook and ask yourself why. I would feel like a tool having bought this POS.

  5. By the time these machines were out in numbers, it was 2014. That’s a measly 4 years for a Chromebook that still outclasses all other non-pixels in the market. It’s not like Google has hundreds of models to support – it’s not even a handful. Have they not figured out an easy way to do kernel upgrades?

    My takeaway… stay away from this (obviously planned obscelence) ecosystem. So ironic for the plug-n-play, cloud utopia they’ve been pushing. Infuriating… they had one job: keep a single app (web browser) updated.

    1. Is that normal, i got mine new around 2 years ago, and now it’s obsolete. wtf, i’m not gonna buy a new one, not even in their dreams

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