Earlier this year, a report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund exposed the fragilities of Google’s Chromebook laptops suggesting that they “come with a built-in expiration date from the beginning,” inevitably burdening schools by forcing them to conduct repairs or purchase newer models. Now, Google is promising to extend the lifespan of their laptops by 10 years of regular updates.
During the pandemic, Chromebooks were the lifeline for K12 schools as they moved to remote instruction. Their affordable price tags made them much more accessible for students. In fact, they’re the number one device used in K12 education globally, according to Futuresource. But this comfort came at a cost.
“The growing trend for ‘1:1’ policies, which aims to give every student their own device, had started before the pandemic and became a necessity with remote learning,” the U.S. PIRG Education Fund report reads. “Now, some three years after that huge spike in Chromebook sales—over 31 million units sold in that first year of the pandemic—schools are beginning to see their Chromebook fleets fail.”
A necessary change
Google’s announcement last week directly addresses these issues with the promise to keep users’ Chromebooks “up and running even longer,” according to a blog post. “All Chromebook platforms will get regular automatic updates for 10 years—more than any other operating system commits to today.”
They’re also in the process of building Chromebooks with added “post-consumer recycled materials (PCR), in addition to new power-efficient features and faster processes to repair them.
“And at the end of their usefulness, we continue to help schools, businesses and everyday users find the right recycling option,” the blog continues.
About the automatic updates
In an effort to ensure the security and stability of their laptops, Google is scheduling regular updates every four weeks to keep them secure and help them last longer.
Starting in 2024, schools that own a 2021 or newer version will automatically begin receiving these updates. Those using older models will have the option to “extend automatic updates to 10 years from the platform’s release” once they receive their last automatic update, according to the blog post.
Streamlining repair processes
More than 80% of schools are currently repairing at least “some” of their Chromebooks in-house, according to Google. Moving forward, K12 IT professionals can look forward to updates that will make these repairs even faster.
“Our new repair flows allow authorized repair centers and school technicians to repair Chromebooks without a physical USB key,” the blog reads. “This reduces the time required for software repairs by over 50% and limits time away from the classroom.”
“With all these updates, we’re committing to keeping Chromebooks universally accessible, helpful and secure—and helping you safely learn and work on them for years to come.”