Got a Chromebook? It may accidentally be “expired”

A select number Chromebook users, particularly those who are using the Chrome OS Dev or Canary modes, have received erroneous messages a few days ago stating that the particular Chromebook unit is already nearing the end of its use date.

The most recent version of Chrome OS suffered from a recent bug that causes Chromebook units to instantly reach their end-of-life time. That is, the error glitches the use-time period of the unit, so it displays the “Final software update” message incorrectly.

This was reportedly caused by one specific update which allows Chrome OS users to be warned six months ahead of time for their end-of-life cycles. Instead, if Google hasn’t selected a particular “final update”, the bug then occurs, leaving the dreadful message to those who are quite sure that their Chromebooks are still well within their official product use life cycles.

For the uninitiated, Chromebooks typically have a pre-set “expiration date” for a particular unit’s use. This programmed obsolescence is usually set every 6.5 years, and if the unit finally nears its end-of-life cycle, this message appears:

As the message indicates, the Chromebook will stop getting updates for its OS past the 6.5-year mark. This even includes manually downloading the updates, so it really won’t get renewed at this point. Despite the rather ominous warning, this will actually not shut the Chromebook down altogether. You can pretty much still use your unit as it is, but it will be “digitally stranded” without any software assistance.

The irony in this is that Dev and Canary modes are generally used by Chrome OS users to get the very latest updates ever for their system. Anyone using the two modes is essentially a beta tester, way ahead of the rest, but carrying the uncertainty of an unstable update, hence the function of these “trial” modes.

Thankfully, the error has since been removed, and the message has disappeared for most Chromebook users. If anything, this incident has brought to light one of the biggest flaws of Chromebooks compared to standard laptops — planned obsolescence.

To be fair, the practice is quite prevalent in the tech industry. Apple for instance, deliberately throttle down significantly older versions of iPhones during certain iOS updates in order to urge people to buy newer ones. Google is a bit more upfront and honest about its obsolescence practices, though this does not really make Chromebooks any more valuable to those who need a long-term hardware investment.

Featured Image Credit by Amin via Wikimedia Commons

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