It’s been nine years since the first Chromebook went on sale. And it’s been four years since Google released any software updates for that device.
When Chrome OS was brand new, Google promised to deliver operating systems for at least 4 years from the release date of each Chromebook. Eventually the company extended that to 5 years, then 6.5 years, and most recently 8 years for newly released models.
But these extensions aren’t always retroactive. And so before spending money on a used, refurbished (or even new) Chromebook, it’s probably a good idea to check Google’s Auto Update Policy website to find the earliest date when Google might stop supporting the model you’re thinking of buying.
For example, as I write this article, Woot is selling a refurbished Acer Chromebook 13 (C810-T7ZT) for $100. At first glance that seems like a decent price for a model with 4GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 802.11ac WiFi, and a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor.
But wait… that processor was released in 2014. How old is this Chromebook released? It came out later that same year. And Google stopped delivering software updates for this Chromebook in September, 2019.
Does that make the Acer Chromebook 13 (C810-T7ZT) an automatic do-not-buy? Not necessarily. But you should know what you’re spending your money on.
You’ll still be able to surf the web using Google’s Chrome web browser. And that may be enough for some users. But you won’t get any new feature or security updates.
You also won’t get official support for running Linux applications using “Crostini,” because Google never brought the feature to this particular Chromebook (its board, which is code-named “nyan” is listed as a system that does not work with Crostini). You may be able to unofficially replace Chrome OS with an alternate operating system or use a third-party tool like Crouton to enable Linux to coexist with Chrome OS.
For the right price, maybe that’s fine.
But I’d still recommend checking the Auto Update Policy page any time you’re thinking of buying a Chromebook, particularly if it’s a used or refurbished model.