back to article Buying a Chromebook? Don't forget to check that best-before date

It is unlikely to be printed on the box, but every Chromebook has an "Auto Update Expiration (AUE) Date" after which the operating system is unsupported by Google. The authoritative document on the subject is here, where Google explains that it "provides each new hardware platform with 6.5 years of Auto Update support". While …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    FAIL

    That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

    It is not acceptable to me that a supplier artificially limits updating hardware to less than the hardware's expected lifespan.

    If I call a plumber for a kitchen sink, he won't tell me that he can't do anything about it because the sink is more than 6 years old. Only in IT do you have companies arbitrarily decide to stop supporting something they sold. And here, it's even worse, because the expiry date is not tied to the sell date.

    That is disgusting.

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

      Enjoy the pint while I try to upvote you some more.

      1. Drew Scriver Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

        "At Google, we strive to build sustainability into everything we do.

        [...]

        We're raising the bar in making smart use of Earth's resources [...] and creating products with people and the planet in mind.

        [...]

        We're committed to minimizing our environmental impact [...]" (https://sustainability.google/)

        You just can't make this stuff up...

        Sounds like the "cash for clunkers" program to me, which destroyed many well-running cars (partially) under the guise that the new cars would use less gas/petrol and therefore this would be better for the environment.

        No matter that both destroying a car and building a new one is far more a burden on the environment than saving a few hundred pounds of carbon emission ever could save.

        Same is true for computer hardware.

    2. AMBxx Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

      Sadly, this is becoming the new norm. Even cars have a load of software that will be unsupported.

      Those fancy new condensing boilers that you're forced to buy have a lifespan of no more than 10 years due to lack of parts.

      1. Wade Burchette Silver badge

        Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

        My car's GPS received map updates for 9 years, and I had to pay for each update. This is my 15th year with that car, so I've been unable to get the updated maps for 6 years. Needless to say, this has permanently soured me on buying another car with GPS in it.

        1. Law

          Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

          If it makes you feel better, our 6 month old car has had no map updates over the air - the maps with the car are over 2 years out of date, as we've since had new major A roads built close by.

          1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

            Re: No Map updates

            Getting Maps updated over the air unless you are driving a Tesla is pretty well a non starter.

            Especially if your car maker is using "Here" maps. They (and TomTom etc) have not sorted out incremental updates yet so it is all or nowt my friend.

            The last updarte of my maps was over 25Gb. Far better to download it onto a USB stick.

            Many cars can have their maps updated but it will probably cost you loadsamoney. In fact 3 years Here Updates cost more than a TomTom SatNav bought from Halfords that includes lifetime European map updates.

            Go figure!

            1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

              Re: No Map updates

              Is 25GB for the worldwide maps?

              As a Garmin user the device I have and my parents tend to be a few gig (For UK and Europe)

            2. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

              Re: No Map updates

              Lifetime updates; its not your lifetime, nor the lifetime of your SatNav but when they want you to buy a new SatNav - Nice for them

            3. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: No Map updates

              "Getting Maps updated over the air unless you are driving a Tesla is pretty well a non starter."

              It remains to be seen how long Tesla will update maps/older hardware. At some point it will be a monumental task to push out updates that work with and have been tested on all of the hardware and firmware revisions. Older cars will be left behind or have to upgrade to new electronics at a huge cost.

            4. fidodogbreath Silver badge

              Re: No Map updates

              Or just use the mobile app version "HereWeGo" on your phone for free.

            5. KBeee Bronze badge

              Re: No Map updates

              If it's the same as my HERE map updates (Europe and Russia), the download site tells you that the download will be about 25GB, but when you try to download to a 32GB USB memory stick the software will tell you there;s not enough space.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

          At a place I worked they insisted in inflicting a Merc on me (I prefer other car makes), so I told them to get the smallest one but not with the smallest engine. Due to the annual car show I ended up with a black AMG spec A200 diesel.

          This is a fairly expensive bit of machinery, but it came with a GPS map that was somewhere between 6 to 12 months old which meant that some local roads didn't even exist on the map. On my query how the map would be updated I was told to get an up to date map would be an extra purchase.

          The tech in that car was not impressive - the only thing that was modern was the you-cannot-ever-switch-it-off Mercedes spy device that permanently signals where the car is and what status it has. I don't care that it's dealer-only setup, it still means that Mercedes has all that data without my permission.

          I didn't use the car GPs much - my phone was more up to date and had online traffic updates. TMS can only signal that much, and apparently there are some jokers around who entertain themselves with fake TMS signalling. All it takes is an FM transmitter and something to generate the right codes (or, rather, in their case the wrong ones).

          1. jmch Silver badge

            Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

            "I didn't use the car GPs much - my phone was more up to date and had online traffic updates."

            Unless your car has permanent and instant / live over-the-air updates, this is true of any car GPS. Google maps has an offline option but by default it goes to the server, which is sure to be updated as soon as any new road is opened. Rather than gripe about this, people should just get a car-holder and car-charger for their phone and use as GPS (If you're not so happy with Google Maps for tracking or other reasons, other NAV systems are available though they might not be free / as up-to-date / have live traffic data).

            There really isn't any functionality in a car GPS that can't be matched or bettered by a connected phone. If the phone isn't connected (no signal or no data roaming abroad), the benefit of car GPS is offline database of places of interest (particularly petrol stations). If they didn't come built-in nowadays, I wouldn't pay extra to get it.

            My bike GPS on the other hand offers genuinely improved functionality over a phone...

            - a solid charging stand (needs to be battery-connected as bikes generally do not have a 5V 'lighter' socket)

            - properly waterproof, since it's exposed in all kinds of weather

            - sensitive to touch when wearing gloves (smartphones suck at this)

            - can plan 'fun' routes that are neither shortest-distance nor fastest, for when the trip is more important than the destination

            Worth every penny

            1. JohnFen

              Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

              What bike computer are you using? I've been looking for one for a year now, and have tried out a half dozen or so, but haven't been able to find one that's actually worth a damn.

              1. jmch Silver badge
                Thumb Up

                Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

                It's a TomTom Rider, model number is 500 or 550 (Not completely sure but I believe the difference between the 2 is anyway the map availability / support and some accessories, with the GPS unit itself being the same).

                I used to have a Rider 2, which worked pretty well in terms of general use and ruggedness, but didn't have the 'fun' routes options and was a pain to update and to find POIs like petrol stations. The new one shows the next 2 petrol stations on your route on the main screen, which is amazingly useful for such a mundane-sounding feature.

                1. JohnFen

                  Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

                  I'll take a look. Thanks!

            2. Cpt Blue Bear

              Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

              "There really isn't any functionality in a car GPS that can't be matched or bettered by a connected phone."

              This. Worked it out about 20 minutes after my first phone with Google Maps.

              "My bike GPS on the other hand offers genuinely improved functionality over a phone..."

              Now that sounds genuinely interesting. Having toured using a cheapo (read "don't care what happens to it") Android tablet shoved into the clear panel of a tank bag just the ability to operate the !@#$ing thing with gloves on has got my attention.

            3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

              My bike GPS

              Such things were not available when I was able to ride motorbikes - we had to make do with a map stuffed into the clear section on the top of the tank bag (assuming that you didn't have a plastic petrol tank).

              Kids today eh?

          2. Persona Silver badge

            Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

            Go onto the Mercedes Me web portal. If you register and link your car you can turn on the online map updates. My (well my wifes) A200 will continue to get free pap update to May 2022

          3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

            The tech in that car was not impressive

            A lot of the 'premium' German car brands seem have a very basic base spec with everything extra being a paid option - completely un-alike the Japanese/Korean method (lots of equipment as standard but also some premium upgrades available). They also don't tend to be terribly progressive in their technical choices (and don't have their previously-famed build quality and reliability either).

            I've never bought a BMW/Audi/VW and probably never will.

          4. keith_w Bronze badge

            Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

            I didn't use the car GPs much - my phone was more up to date and had online traffic updates.

            Although my phone has maps, I prefer to use my Tom-Tom as it provides the same functionality, including traffic updates, but does not suck up my data plan downloading map segments.

        3. Updraft102

          Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

          I bought a GPS app for my Android tablet from a major GPS manufacturer whose name is also a percussion instrument favored by hippies, along with "lifetime updates." I guess they thought I was some kind of rodent or something with a much shorter lifespan, as it was cut off a little more than a year later, since they had decided to discontinue the "buy once, use forever" product and replace it with a "buy once, use for a year, buy again" SaaS model. The replacement was much inferior to what I already had, and I didn't accept the "up"grade that would tell me I had to pay in a year or two instead of the lifetime license I already had. So, yeah, lifetime updates meant about a year and a half.

          I don't think I will be buying from that outfit again. The GPS is all I use that Android tablet for... at six years old, the tablet has been abandonware by a major Korean electronics supplier whose name rhymes with Samsung for five. Don't think I will be buying any tablets or phones from them again either, though to be fair I won't be from anyone else either. I was never a huge fan of the fondleslabs, and that experience really soured me on them, not to mention that Android is spyware and Apple is jail for which the inmate pays extra.

        4. Nolveys
          Devil

          Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

          My car won't be getting any software updates. Luckily:

          manual mirrors

          manual windows

          manual locks

          manual transmission

          manual manual

          radio: AM/FM and nothing

          dash: analog

          I'm worried about that happens when this thing gives out, it's next to impossible to find a new-ish car that isn't overflowing with techno-garbage.

          Icon because it's the face of a car.

          1. DanceMan

            Re: overflowing with techno-garbage

            2005 Toyota Matrix twice has stranded me because the electronic control system decided the battery did not have enough voltage. Despite a manual transmission it could not be bump started because the management system would not switch it into "run" mode.

          2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

            My car won't be getting any software updates

            Wy wife's car barely has electrics, let alone electronics[1]..

            radio: AM/FM and nothing

            Eee - radio - luxury! (Mind you, the Morris Minor is so noisy you probably wouldn't hear it unless you turned it up loud).

            [1] She got me to fit an alarm to it at one point - the car's anti-technology field rejected the alarm after about a week - first one died in a shower of sparks, the second one started going off at random intervals and got removed. I suspect that (despite having a sort-of modern alternator fitted) that the electricity supplied isn't particularly stable or smooth.. When the car has Lucas-supplied wiring fitted in 1966 that wouldn't be a surprise!

          3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

            Yep, that's my car, and I even had to add the stereo later (didn't come with one).

            And it's good I bought my (rhymes with 'Sunday') hatchback (model name is what a Frenchman trying to speak English would have) the year I did, because the next year the newer models no longer came as a 2-door hatchback, and they jacked the price up 40%+ over the model I bought.

            Manual *everything*.

          4. M.V. Lipvig

            Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

            You can do what I'm doing - I bought an older vehicle and am rebuilding it the way I want it.

          5. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

            Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

            > manual windows

            ...which are also a serious safety feature. Just yesterday a girl told us a story of how someone hit her and mangled her car, jamming the doors, and its engine started burning, "but I'd already had the windows wound down so I was able to get out."

            No electrics = can't get out of a modern car in an accident.

        5. JohnFen

          Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

          It's clear to me that any user-facing computer systems actually built into a car are, at best, worthless and their presence does not actually add value.

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

          Dare I ask homw much you paid in total??

          Friend with an Audi S4 was quoted £800 for a map update CD a couple of years ago, by his local Audi dealer.

          He quite rightly told them to "Eff Off" and bought a Tom Tom for £80, with a lifetime map update promise.

          1. IGotOut Silver badge

            Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

            "with a lifetime map update promise"

            Another sucker failing for TomTom's marketing bullshit.

            What does “lifetime” mean?

            "Lifetime is the useful life of the device, which means the period of time that TomTom continues to support your device with software updates, services, content or accessories. A device will have reached the end of its life when none of these are available any more."

            http://uk.support.tomtom.com/app/content/id/9/locale/en_gb/page/4

            1. NordieBoy

              Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

              I've just been informed that my TomTom Rider 400 will no longer get map updates.

              They did offer me a deal on another unit, but how long a car GPS would last on a motorbike is unknown.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

              I know, but he wouldnt listen. I have been using the same free nav app for about 10 years and never paid a penny for maps all across the world - although the Chinese one is a bit naff.

              AFAIK that TT is still getting free updates, certainly it was still getting them after 4 years, so still a massive saving over Audi's CD, which would be totally out of date and requiring another £800 hit by now.

        7. Steve Crook

          Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

          Years ago (2010) I purchased copilot for my then spiffy HTC Desire smartphone. Been receiving free app and map updates FOC since then. This after a brief and painful TomTom experience.

          I've been amazed they've not fallen to the whole subscription thing...

        8. MarkElmes

          Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

          Make sure your next car has Android Auto - this is constantly updated with google maps so has no expiry date. Auto manufacturers own solutions suck!

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

            "Make sure your next car has Android Auto - this is constantly updated with google maps so has no expiry date."

            It also allows Google to add to the dossier they keep on you. Good luck.

        9. Montreal Sean
          Joke

          Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

          @Wade Burchette

          They figure that if you don't know where you are going after 9 years, you'll never know.

        10. Blank Reg Silver badge

          Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

          It's ridiculous that you have to pay for map updates on your car when my 2007 era standalone Garmin GPS still gets free map updates.

          I get free lifetime map updates on a device that probably cost about the same as filling the tank on a car 3-4 times, that makes no sense.

        11. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

          Easy solution to that is get a car next time with Android Auto or Apple Car Play. You can use the satnav from your phone then. Google maps is infinitely better than any car manufacturer satnav I've ever used

      2. roblightbody

        Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

        Its only British Gas that tell people they can't get 10 year old parts for the boiler (in order to sell a new one) - if you go elsewhere, you'll find parts are available just fine.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

      If you call a plumber to work on a sink they will charge. I don't know of any plumber who will fit a sink and provide free fixes for any problems for the next 6 years. (They probably would, or even be required to, for 6 weeks)

      1. localgeek

        Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

        The key difference here being that you can't pay ANY price to get support for your Chromebook after the 6.5 years is up. Our house is over 70 years old, but we always have the option of hiring a plumber to fix our ancient pipes.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

          > The key difference here being that you can't pay ANY price to get support for your Chromebook after the 6.5 years is up. Our house is over 70 years old, but we always have the option of hiring a plumber to fix our ancient pipes.

          Which is why it was a bad analogy: because it's true that plumbers won't continue to 'update' or fix your sink forever (or even past the guarantee period) but also true that it is shitty that Google won't provide updates for something only 6 years old. Especially as they pride themselves in saying it just fixes and updates itself and has "built in" antivirus.

          1. Wallsy

            Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

            I think a better analogy might be that my sink can't wash dishes with 2019 dishwashing liquid, whereas it was fine with the 2018 version...

            It's not the repair / upkeep so much as the inability to support any new applications that kills me. Eventually you're left behind with an unpatched unsupported sink OS and no dishes apps.

        2. ridley

          Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

          You could of course just load Chtomium OS into your Chromebook if you wanted an up to date OS.

          1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

            Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

            /me googles frantically...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

        Security patches by definition fix a problem that existed at time of purchase.

        https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-rights-act#how-long-do-you-have-to-return-a-faulty-product :

        "Six months or more

        If a fault develops after the first six months, the burden is on you to prove that the product was faulty at the time you took ownership of it.

        In practice, this may require some form of expert report, opinion or evidence of similar problems across the product range.

        Find out more about how to return a faulty item and claim a refund, repair or replacement from a retailer.

        You have six years to take a claim to the small claims court for faulty goods in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and five years in Scotland.

        This doesn't mean that a product has to last six years - just that you have this length of time in which to make a claim if a retailer refuses to repair or replace a faulty product. "

    4. trindflo
      Unhappy

      Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

      I recently tried to find a replacement brush for a hedge trimmer. The hedge trimmer even has convenient screws for replacing the brushes. Good luck finding a brush in a local hardware store, but they will happily sell you a new trimmer. Computers may be the worst for it, but the trend is omnipresent. Say "moo" and enjoy your milking.

      1. yoganmahew

        Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

        @trindflo

        Ebay is your friend for brushes!

        1. Conundrum1885

          Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

          Modding a used one from say a broken motor, is a messy task but feasible.

          I have the same problem here with a defunct starter motor. Car is otherwise OK but parts aren't available for a price that makes it worth repairing even though barring a couple of CV joints , door seals and a cam belt it might see in the next decade.

    5. Fungus Bob

      Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

      "It is not acceptable to me that a supplier artificially limits updating hardware to less than the hardware's expected lifespan."

      Actually, Google isn't the supplier. Their policy still sucks though. Makes upgrading the BIOS so you can install Gallium more attractive.

    6. eamonn_gaffey

      Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

      Disgusting as it is, that is the business model for the IT supplier industry, and it is no wonder they now own the earth. There have been notable exceptions in the software industry, where suppliers support everything they have ever released, but these are exceptionally rare.

      As mug punters, we all (reluctantly) have go along with it. Maybe we should vote with our feet, except there are not a lot of places to go. As my (futile) little protest, I hang on to "stuff" until they are broken, putting up with ever decreasing functionality and performance, and only upgrade when I absolutely have to.

    7. gnarlymarley

      Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

      It is not acceptable to me that a supplier artificially limits updating hardware to less than the hardware's expected lifespan.

      I suspect this has ties to the spector/meltdown problem, where manufacturers build some electronics and they don't want to support it for life because they don't think they charge enough. Probably that their updates match what they think is the hardware's expected lifespan. It is certainly not my expected lifespan. I think a computer should be usable until it dies, say after about 20 or 30 years. A lot of manufacturers think it should last or three years. There sure is a huge difference between my thoughts and their thoughts.

    8. Nonymous Crowd Nerd

      Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

      A sad, dishonourable mention for Rangemaster here, as they have done exactly this with my oven. They asked me to read off the serial number and if it starts with the wrong digit, all support is withdrawn and all spare parts unobtainable.

    9. This post has been deleted by its author

    10. s0nicfreak

      Re: That's Chromebook right out of my buying list then

      Not 6 years, but I've had repairs and services (such as hooking up new appliances) refused because my house is so old that it's not up to the current codes.

      In IT, they recognize that in ~6 years it's going to be difficult/impossible to keep a device up to then-current safety/security standards. It's not random.

  2. Conundrum1885

    Ah HEll NO!!!!!

    I have had this for a very short time and looks like it has 2.5 years left on its "Doomsday Clock".

    Sounds like its time for another upgrade, and unload the dinosaur so someone else can use it. 2 years is more than enough for GCSEs.

    Battery life isn't too bad but starting to go, down to 87% capacity.

    On the flip side, on my "To Do" list is upgrade the Wifi card and hack the FW to support external DVD over USB3. Even if I can get it to see the disk this will be good enough though it likely won't be able to burn or play disks.

  3. Flywheel Silver badge
    Devil

    No problem!

    When I got fed up of being nannied by Google I decided to just ditch Chrome OS altogether and installed Gallium OS instead. My old Acer CB3-111 is now more useful than it's ever been. Screw you Google.

    1. hamiltoneuk

      Re: No problem!

      Thanks for the tip! I've noticed there are a few Chrome OS alternatives out there. My 6.5 year old Acer is still great. Microsoft let people have Windows 10 updates for longer than that, if you can stand the many hours it takes to install the 6 monthly refreshes on a 1st generation core i3 lappy for instance.

      1. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: No problem!

        True, but don't forget that as Windows 10 feature updates can often require updated drivers, the manufacturers can still make your device obsolete quite quickly by classifying it as unsupported and refusing to issue new drivers. Once that happens and a new W10 build comes out requiring a newer driver, you've got about 30 months of support for the H2 release before you're stuck with an unsupported OS. Of course, at least a flavour of Linux is still an option at that point...

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: No problem!

          Has this happened? My ancient printer still works with Windows XP 64 bit drivers.

          I have a pair of i7 3700s which are about 7 years old. Nvida and AMD are still providing the respective graphics drivers. Everything else works out of the box with Microsoft provided drivers.

          1. Dave K Silver badge

            Re: No problem!

            Yes, it has. Intel dropped support for Clover Trail Atoms a few years back (classified them as an obsolete product) and refused to issue any newer drivers for the platform. Windows 10 beyond the anniversary edition refuses to work as a result as it requires an updated driver.

            On this occasion, MS realised the sticky situation they were in after strong-arming customers to ditch Windows 7/8 with their "free upgrade" offer, and hence offered support for the Anniversary Edition to 2023 to avoid lawsuits. In future though? MS won't be as accommodating.

            Don't get me wrong, you may be lucky in future with devices still working fine for years with older drivers, but nothing is guaranteed and "planned obsolescence" will become much easier for manufacturers with Windows 10's feature update model.

    2. TVU Silver badge

      Re: No problem!

      "When I got fed up of being nannied by Google I decided to just ditch Chrome OS altogether and installed Gallium OS instead. My old Acer CB3-111 is now more useful than it's ever been. Screw you Google".

      ^ As Punch the puppet says, "That's the way to do it!".

      There's no end of written and video instructions out there on how to install GalliumOS on a Chromebook. I also think it's irresponsible of Google to have this inbuilt obsolescence strategy for Chromebooks because it is very environment unfriendly.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: No problem!

        > because it is very environment unfriendly

        Why would they only be unfriendly to people?...

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: No problem!

      interesting point, I was thinking "just put regular Linux on it", maybe Devuan with a Mate desktop?

      Or if I'm ready to deal with compatibility problems, I could maybe get FreeBSD to work on a chromebook!

      In any case, all is NOT lost. Just need to switch over to a REAL OPERATING SYSTEM. Then if you miss Chrome OS, just load chromium browser by default when you start up...

  4. OssianScotland Silver badge

    Consumer Rights?

    Given that, in the UK at least, there is a right to a partial refund for up to 6 years if the goods "do not last for a reasonable length of time" (various online references to Consumer Rights Act 2015), I would certainly be happy to argue that removal of OS support within that period is against the law, and I suspect Trading Standards would support this view.

    1. tony72

      Re: Consumer Rights?

      Oh come on, it's not like it stops working after the AUE. I'd love to see you take this to Trading Standards actually, but I rather suspect you'd be given rather short shrift for complaining about a device that is working fine and hasn't lost any significant functionality.

      1. DontFeedTheTrolls
        Headmaster

        Re: Consumer Rights?

        "a device that is working fine and hasn't lost any significant functionality"

        So if it was purchased within 6 years but a vulnerability was discovered would it be "working fine"? Let's compare to cars - they can be recalled for "vulnerabilities" beyond 6 years, so why not other technical or mechanical items?

        1. tony72

          Re: Consumer Rights?

          I'm not a lawyer, but I find it unlikely that failure to guarantee updates for ancient devices beyond six years is going to legally qualify as "do not last for a reasonable length of time". There are plenty of devices out there with vulnerabilities, new and old, and as far as I'm aware there is no legal requirement for manufacturers to meet any arbitrary standard of security, or to patch vulnerabilities in any given timeframe; the onus is on the consumer to choose manufacturers that behave responsibly, if security is a concern for them. As I say, by all means take it to Trading Standards, and do let me know how you get on.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Consumer Rights?

            > as far as I'm aware there is no legal requirement for manufacturers to meet any arbitrary standard of security

            That was due to the various bodies expecting the manufacturers to do the right thing. Aka "Self regulation".

            Which since ASUS - and others - completely ignored it, they've finally been fined and now have to provide (security) updates for their products. And not have them been security disasters in the first place.

          2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: Consumer Rights?

            "There are plenty of devices out there with vulnerabilities, new and old"

            Yes, but those vulnerabilities are generally unknown *until they are patched* (at which point all the Bad Guys know exactly what was changed).

            "I'm aware there is no legal requirement for manufacturers to meet any arbitrary standard of security, or to patch vulnerabilities in any given timeframe"

            Not on the manufacturers, no, but my bank's T&Cs for online banking place a contractual requirement on *me* not to use the service with some riddled pile of shite.

        2. jmch Silver badge

          Re: Consumer Rights?

          "if it was purchased within 6 years but a vulnerability was discovered"

          But it's impossible to prove 'a priori' that my newly-bought Chromebook with support expiring in 3 years will have a security vulnerability thereafter.

          As an IT Pro I *know* that some security vulnerability will pop up after support expiry, but there's no way I can prove in court *now* that a specific vulnerability will pop up *then*. And I suspect that complaining in general about possible future vulnerabilities would get short shrift from a judge.

          In short, anyone owning a Chromebook who is considering legal action based on the clause mentioned by the OP will have to wait until support expires and then complain about a known vulnerability that is causing his Chromebook to not work as desired. And even then it would probably need to be a pretty large hole to convince a judge that functionality is significantly impaired

          1. tfewster Silver badge

            Re: Consumer Rights?

            On the other hand, even a newly discovered vuln demonstrates the product is "faulty by design" or has a "manufacturing fault".

            You don't have to wait until your tumble dryer burns your house down or your car kills you to get faults in those repaired. Taking on a Google/Apple/Microsoft alone would be futile, but you wouldn't be alone

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Compare to cars

          Cars get recalls a decade after they're sold for personal injury/death type issues like airbags that shoot out shrapnel, not for something like "stereo scratches CDs". For that you will hopefully be covered under the warranty, but definitely not after.

          If your Chromebook could catch on fire while charging (beyond the normal rate for LiON battery issues) they'd have to issue a fix, and would be very happy if it could be done in software. The law probably doesn't view "malicious web page could hack my Chromebook" in the same way, and definitely doesn't view "won't get the new OS version with shiny new features" in the same way.

          Not saying Google isn't being awful giving you no more support life than they do for a Pixel phone, but comparing to the way cars are supported after sale is ludicrous.

      2. 0laf Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Consumer Rights?

        I dunno.

        That 6.5 years only applies at the point of a new OS release. So if you buy a Chromebook a few years into that release you might only get 4.5yr from it. Possibly less, I'm not a big 'Droid user so I'm not sure how regular the relevant releases are.

        But if you bought a more expensive Chromebook (£500+) I think it would be reasonable to epxect more than 4.5yr of use from it especially if the hardware appears to be fine.

        It may continue to function but if you have warnings on screen to say that your device is no longer safe then it is arguable that it is no longer usable for many normal functions i.e. online shopping or banking.

        Also if it was bought for business (like the one I work for) all of our equipment must be in support. So we would have to dump all chromebooks at expiry. I know these trading laws don't apply to businesses but this clearly needs to be a consideration especially for education establishments which often buy chromebooks by the thousand.

      3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Consumer Rights?

        "hasn't lost any significant functionality."

        For a device that is basically useless unless it is network-connected, the absence of security patches renders the device unsafe-at-any-speed. That's a pretty major loss of functionality.

        Would *you* do online banking on a PC that hadn't been patched in ages? If so, you'd better hope your bank never gets to hear of it because the terms & conditions almost certainly state that you are only allowed to access that service if you have taken reasonable steps to ensure that the client device is properly patched.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Consumer Rights?

          "Would *you* do online banking on a PC that hadn't been patched in ages? If so, you'd better hope your bank never gets to hear of it because the terms & conditions almost certainly state that you are only allowed to access that service if you have taken reasonable steps to ensure that the client device is properly patched."

          I wonder if "I emailed $supplier requesting security updates and they ignored me/told me to piss off" is "reasonable steps"?

    2. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: Consumer Rights?

      I suspect Trading Standards would support this view

      Have you tried calling Trading Standards recently ? You get put through to Citizens Advice who listen to you and spend 5 minutes wringing their hands but do nothing - even when there are clear breaches of the law.

      1. OssianScotland Silver badge

        Re: Consumer Rights?

        I've discovered writing (yes, on dead trees) to TS does generally have more effect - as you say, Citizens Advice is somewhere midway between non-existent and useless.

        The last time was to do with a Private Parking "fine" which CA said just to pay, but TS ended up taking the company to court (for a clear breach of the law) and winning.

        1. nematoad Silver badge

          Re: Consumer Rights?

          "...CA said just to pay, but TS ended up taking the company to court (for a clear breach of the law) and winning."

          Ah but do remember the people at Citizens Advice are mostly unpaid volunteers who have to deal with a lot of problems like Universal Credit, housing issues and so on. When you deal with trading standards you are talking to the experts.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Consumer Rights?

      Frustrating though it is, I can see why Trading Standards would not support a claim here. The product that was purchased retains all of the functionality that it had when initially purchased (maybe better if it's had some updates in the meantime). Once the magic date is reached, it's not a case that you have less than you originally purchased, it's just that other products are better.

      1. Trollslayer Silver badge

        Re: Consumer Rights?

        Because they have been gutted by cutbacks.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: maybe better if it's had some updates in the meantime

        or maybe worse if it's had some updates in the meantime.

        AC Google supporter, you're getting very tedious now.

        This timeout is clearly bollocks that would get crucified on here if MS tried it. Or even if they didn't. (I'm expecting a post blaming MS for this in a few minutes......)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: maybe better if it's had some updates in the meantime

          Had Apple done it El Reg would have crashed with the number of people trying to get their 2p's worth in.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: maybe better if it's had some updates in the meantime

          "I'm expecting a post blaming MS for this in a few minutes....."

          Sorry for the delay - it was Microsoft's fault.

      3. Lusty

        Re: Consumer Rights?

        "The product that was purchased retains all of the functionality that it had when initially purchased"

        No it doesn't. The TV adverts clearly state they come with inclusive anti malware (and incorrectly imply Windows doesn't). Updates stop, AV stops, and that is functionality which was promised to be included for free.

        1. cnsnnts
          Holmes

          Re: Consumer Rights?

          The advert I know about says Chromebooks are "the laptop with built-in virus protection."

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-WPIZcTGpI&feature=youtu.be&t=23

          The advert also clearly shows anti-virus software pop-ups appearing on the "other" machines

          In practice this means passive protection from sandboxes, secure boot, hardening, making some important stuff read-only. and loads of other stuff

          https://www.chromium.org/chromium-os/chromiumos-design-docs/security-overview

          There is no active AV of the type that is necessary on MS-Windows machines, that depend on a supply of signature data to keep up with the current threats.

          Yes you will not gain protection from new vulnerabilities that arise and are exploited, but you will remain as protected as you were before.

          It is not the machine that changes, but the environment.

          Ideally Google would make their support of Chrome OS extend well into the life of the longest living devices. The concern their is that this would hold back feature updates across the stable due to increasing complexity of feature development and testing for so many platforms.

          Google should work with the manufacturers to make the support life of the products more visible at the point of sale.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Consumer Rights?

            > but you will remain as protected as you were before.

            Apart from things like Meltdown, Spectre, or any other serious vulnerability that shows up and has exploits available. For which you can't get patches once this deadline hits your Chromebook model.

            Sounds like you find no value in patches yourself, and have patching of all your machines disabled?

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Consumer Rights?

            "Yes you will not gain protection from newly discovered vulnerabilities that were built-in from new or added by the updates that arise and are exploited"

            FTFY.

    4. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Consumer Rights?

      I suspect you could claim because the limitation wasn't clearly stated on the un-opened box it fails the first hurdle of UK consumer law, and especially so if the Google cut off date is less than 6 years after the date of purchase.

    5. ridley

      Re: Consumer Rights?

      Funny that anyone buying a Vista machine or Win7 machine never succeeded in a claim when their OS went EOL.

      Or millions of people buying Android or even iPhones that are not updated or OS goes EOL.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Consumer Rights?

        Those machines could be upgraded to the newer OS, and the Microsoft lifecycle is clearly and concisely available and widely known. Microsoft provide patches for their OS for 5 years AFTER EOL, a date known as EOS (End of Support).

        In this instance, nobody was aware of it at all and the system needs replacing at EOS, and in this instance EOS == EOL

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Consumer Rights?

          Those machines could be upgraded to the newer OS

          Tell that to t'wife's iPad 2 - I think it's stuck at iOS 7 (or 8 - can't remember). At some point I'll bite the bullet and get her a newer one.

          She only really uses it to listen to podcasts (wild stuff like The Archers compilation) so Urgency == "Minimal".

    6. Carrot007

      Re: Consumer Rights?

      > Given that, in the UK at least, there is a right to a partial refund for up to 6 years if the goods "do not last for a reasonable length of time"

      Were you reading legislation drunk again?

      You have a right to bring a complaint within 6 years of purchase. There is no specified time that a item should last. That is left up to common sense/the courts.

      Now I would find 2 years to be reasonable for most chromebooks (they are cheap, yet also overpriced). However the ridiculous costing ones I would expect to last at least 6 years. But I'm sure they are also supported as long.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They all know when end of life is going to be on a product. How else would they cost it? What we need is a law that makes a certain amount of time from purchase date (not manufacture) to be the minimum. If they want to add a caveat that there is a sell by date as well then that's not a problem as long as it's on the box then the price can reflect the reduced life of the product and the person buying can make an informed choice.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "What we need is a law that makes a certain amount of time from purchase date (not manufacture) to be the minimum."

      Like the current consumer protection legislation?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Maybe someone needs to test those laws, has a company done enough covering the consumer from manufacture to end of life or should they be using purchase date. Does not getting updates have that cover? The device will generally still work and do what it's designed to do so how would you determine it's not covered? If it's a security issue and the device is compromised you can't go back to the manufacturer because they will say it's end of life and where does consumer protection sit on that? That's why I think it needs specific legislation plus it's good for the environment as it pushes these companies to have longer life cycles.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          If there is a security update for SSL, as there have been in the past. Websites will install it, and you will also need to update your browser. If you don't, then a lot of websites won't work.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "If it's a security issue and the device is compromised you can't go back to the manufacturer because they will say it's end of life and where does consumer protection sit on that?"

          With general laptops, that might be less of a issue but the Chromebooks and ChromeOS is designed primarily to be used online so security issues affecting the safe use of the device are an inherent part of the usability and functionality of the device.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "What we need is a law that makes a certain amount of time from purchase date (not manufacture) to be the minimum."

      I wonder if this is the actual issue - when stock is being sold versus when it is manufactured.

      Resellers aren't shy when it comes to selling old stock at a discount and consumers aren't shy about buying what they consider "a bargin". The number of times our smaller offices have purchased products locally that are past end-of-sales by 2+ years and have practically no support because they are offered an amazing deal that is basically just offloading worthless kit is.

      Having said that, I think Google has vastly underestimated the sales lifetime of their devices. Looking at the models, they appear to be supporting systems for ~3.5 years after a new model is released which means stock is likely to be in the channel for a further year or more.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        > I think Google has vastly underestimated the sales lifetime of their devices.

        They have also vastly under-estimated the life of their products. This cut off date effectively kills the secondhand market in Chromebooks.

        Currently, 10 year old high-end desktops will happily run Windows 7 and still get updates, hence why there is a secondhand market in these devices. However with Win10, MS have already begin to explicitly cut support for 'older' Intel chipsets (this was reported in El reg a while back); I have a Win10 tablet purchased in 2016, that will receive it's last Windows update this autumn...

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Coat

          Maybe the Year of Linux on the (2nd hand) Desktop/Chromebook is nigh!

          1. quxinot Silver badge

            >Maybe the Year of Linux on the (2nd hand) Desktop/Chromebook is nigh!

            That's what I'm hoping. A big glut of these showing up on ebay and the like, driving the price down?

            I wouldn't mind having a few chromebooks if they were down in the 'disposable' price range. Slap a linux of choice on it--probably Debian or variants for me, ymmv!--and off we go!

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              >A big glut of these showing up on ebay and the like, driving the price down? ... Slap a linux of choice on it--probably Debian or variants for me, ymmv!--and off we go!

              Might have the beginnings of a business there. Particularly if the distro and pre-installed app's are targeted at likely user groups.

              1. Col_Panek

                I bought an original Pixel (originally $1100) for $200 refurbed, a couple years ago. I tried crouton for a while, tried Mint and KDE, too much fiddling. GalliumOS has the right drivers for the sound, touch screen, display, etc. so you just get right back to work. It has an i5, hi res touch screen, great speakers, solid. I use an SD card for extra storage.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "Having said that, I think Google has vastly underestimated the sales lifetime of their devices. Looking at the models, they appear to be supporting systems for ~3.5 years after a new model is released which means stock is likely to be in the channel for a further year or more."

        And as per the article, entire education authorities standardising on them across the school system where pupils might well be expected to use them for 5 years. (yeah, yeah, lifetime of "free" tech given to schoolkids etc etc etc), but what happens when (not if) a school or LEA managing a fleet of 1000's of chrome books suddenly finds that on a certain day, 100's if not 1000's suddenly can't be managed by the remote systems and they're only 2-3 years from purchase date?

        1. M.V. Lipvig
          Holmes

          That's when you get a meaningful lawsuit, with The Googler being beat up by the media for failing to "protect the kiddies." Gummit lawsuits have quite a bit more of a bite than Joe Blow lawsuits. You'll also see The Googler suddenly providing a longer lifespan for gummit machines.

    3. Zebranky

      Law

      I think instead extending the warranty laws (which is essentially what is being spoken about when talking about support for a certain amount of time after the purchase date), there should be an update to the advertising and packaging laws to make it a requirement that the manufacturer must clearly indicate the earliest manufacturer's expiry date on the external packaging. (This should cover built in hardware obsolescence as well as software)

      Think best before date on semi-perishable products you buy at the supermarket.

      In the same way that people think twice about buying a product that has a best before or expiry date that is due to expire in a week, people may* think twice about buying a Chromebook where the packing clearly states than in 6 months time they will not be able to get security updates.

      * may because it would probably take many years of encouragement before average consumers start to examine the product packaging properly before making a purchase, but at least the technically competent among us wont be caught unawares about a rapid built in obsolescence...

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Law

        I wonder what the end of support life is currently for Chromebooks supplied by John Lewis and others under their 3 year guarantee/support plans - a few returns might get retailers on the case...

  6. Blockchain commentard

    Google kill support for their Nexus/PIxel phones after a few years so why is it suprising they do it for their Chromebooks?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Very true, but I don't think anyone is arguing that this is "surprising". They are using quite different adjectives. :)

  7. Muscleguy Silver badge

    Buy carefully

    I’m still getting system updates for this mid2010 Macbook Pro running Sierra. I upgraded the system to Sierra (for free). Most of them are security updates. The last one required a restart.

    Compared to my 18month old Android phone where I kill the Motorola update service since it has no purpose any more.

    1. bob42

      Re: Buy carefully

      Lucky you... my 2009 (1 year older than yours) macbook had support dropped some time ago. My 2005 mac mini... obsolete less than two years. And the ipad 1. Yep obsolete in 2 years. Now I know these are all old now, but after the burns, I've 'carefully' not bought any more Apple.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Buy carefully

        Apple are generally better than everyone else.

        My mid-2010 macbook didn't get Mojave, but it is still getting security updates for high sierra. My iPad Air 2 will get the iPadOS 13 update.

      2. herman Silver badge

        Re: Buy carefully

        Hmm, you can install OpenBSD on your Mac Mini. Apple MacOS is mostly BSD anyway.

        My Macbook Pro 2012 is still going just as well/better than the day I bought it and if support runs out before the machine fails, I'll switch it to OpenBSD.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Buy carefully

          My Macbook Pro 2012 is still going just as well/better than the day I bought it

          Ditto for my 2011 MBP - putting some more RAM and an aftermarket SSD in it sped it right up. And then I slowed it back down again by installing Windows 7 for my wife to use..

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Buy carefully

        And the ipad 1. Yep obsolete in 2 years

        Judging by the utter lack of performance on my iPad 2 you probably don't want to be doing anything online on an iPad 1..

  8. hakuli

    "Consider upgrading"...

    FTA: "The device will show a notification along the lines of: "This device will no longer receive the latest software updates. Please consider upgrading." "

    To a better, non-Google OS perhaps?

    (Would never buy a Chromebook personally...)

    1. Trollslayer Silver badge

      Re: "Consider upgrading"...

      As was mentioned by someone else there is Gallium OS.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: "Consider upgrading"...

        and regular Linux...

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: "Consider upgrading"...

          and regular Linux...

          Or even irregular linux - like KaliOS for example.

          Network testing tool in a lightweight shell. Probably need to get an ethernet adaptor though.

  9. jonha
    Linux

    In this day and age anyone* who buys a significant chunk of hardware (PCs, smartphones, tablets, routers etc) whose software (OS or firmware) is not under user control and can't be changed is making a mistake. This route might be more expensive in the short run but it gives a lot more peace of mind and actually saves money in the long run.

    * Sadly "anyone" here means those who either know how to replace the OS or firmware or know someone who can do that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do you know that your beloved Linux empowered Google to deliver its user-controlling devices with a far lower investment than having to develop an OS from scratch? Actually, it's Linux that it's feeding the most dangerous IT companies in the world - Google, Facebook, Amazon....

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Do you know who contributes most to Linux? It's the big companies who get something back - largely Intel because so many devices use their processors.

        What they get back is a widely used OS that costs them less to develop co-operatively than if they went all-out to each develop their own private OS. H/W vendors used to roll their own. Then they saw how a 3rd party OS such as CP/M allowed a whole lot of start-ups to start making their own products. The MS followed up with MSDOS. The day of the OS developed from scratch was largely over. Common sense, really.

      2. Updraft102

        Linux is free software. That means it can be used for evil as well as for good. Linux is not to blame for what some use it to do, and it provides the solution for a lot of that stuff at the same time.

  10. Peter X

    Can you still run Linux on them?

    If you can still run Linux on them, that's something. But I really think there should be rules that force manufacturers to publish driver source code and full hardware specs when they drop support, otherwise they're just driving more and more e-waste.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Can you still run Linux on them?

      everything I've read says "yes" and a search on "linux on chromebook" yielded at least 10 reputable sites with step by step instructions on how to do it

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can you still run Linux on them?

      GalliumOS

  11. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Flame

    To misquote HHGTTG

    I trust them as far as I can spit a dead camel.

    1. Ken Shabby
      Big Brother

      Re: To misquote HHGTTG

      how fast does it go? The speed of a well greased cathedral?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's rather unfortunate...

    ...considering google has built an entire ad campaign around Chromebooks being immune from security vulnerabilities!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Android Auto

    I wonder how applicable this stuff is to other Android platforms, like Android Auto?

    If you buy a car, and have a 7 year warranty, and 5 years into your use of it you run out of Android support, and 6 years into your use of it a design fault is discovered in the network stack that (for example) allows someone outside the car to turn your lights on and flatten the battery, or disable the airbags or something, where do you stand?

    It seems (to me at least) to be the manufacturer's responsibility to fix it.

    Will the car manufacturer replace the Android parts with ones that are supported? Is that even likely on a model of car that might have been out of roductions for 2 or 3 years?

    Do the built-in obsolescence rules apply differently to platforms other than Chrombooks?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android Auto

      That's one big concern for us. Our cars are 13 and 18 years old. (That 13yo car replaced one that we'd driven for 17 years.) What chance would we have to keep a car for more than a few years if everything controlling the engine and on the dashboard depends on software that the manufacturers refuse to service any more? (The phrase "vanishingly small" comes to mind.)

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Android Auto

        Another thing is the the development cycle for cars is a lot slower than for computers, so when you buy a new car, any computing technology in it will be about 2 years old.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android Auto

      Well Android Auto and CarPlay is really only needed for one thing - tying the car's stereo/mic/display to the phone for calls, music, and maps for directions. So you really shouldn't need much in the way of updates, since that needs to happen is that tying between car and phone. So long as the phone maintains compatibility with older versions of that software, and older versions of Bluetooth the cars may use, you don't care if it is never updated other than an externally exploitable security hole. What new features could they possibly add, other than maybe Android deciding to take its usual kitchen sink approach and tying it to ODB-II (which would likely open up a giant security hole) so you can monitor you car's performance info while driving.

      Though maybe every car will be obsolete in 10-15 years, when self driving cars arrive for real. What will be the market for a third hand model year 2019 gas powered manual drive vehicle? Poor people won't own a manual drive car that will be increasingly expensive to insure when they can call a car to arrive at their door anytime they want they don't need a parking space for, and you sure as hell won't buy a used manual drive car for your teenager (and they would eventually be IMPOSSIBLE to insure)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Android Auto

        Ah yes.. the future utopia with empty self driving cars running around to collect punters.

        Wont work for everyone in the real world. This rural area - like many around - has many villages and hamlets a way off from town/employment/shopping/medical/entertainment. good luck providing "on demand" transport for everyone in that situation.

        This highlights the folly of buying into the whole Chromebook thing. when you cant tell how long supprt is likely to be its just too much of a risk. I dont trust google with my data or my money!

        Oh and for the record, we have a 54 plate Megane estate that is just about to go in for attention to the rear spoiler panel - as a recall.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Android Auto

        VAG cars have had in car entertainment systems tied into ECO/OBD for some years now. if the segt isnt programmed with the right code to match the VIN of the car it dosnt work, I dont believe that its too much of a stretch to see this system arrive at a point where the ICE unit can be repurposed as an attack vector for car systems, it only takes one idiot to decide that isolation is bad and stops them doing "Cool" things with the car systems via an ICE link!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Android Auto

          There have already been multiple attacks on entertainment/navigation systems that let you control the engine, brakes even the steering in steer by wire cars while in motion.

          I'd never buy a car that had cellular or wifi if I couldn't disable it in some way (by pulling a fuse or removing the antenna connection) because of this issue. I think the exploits that have been found are just the tip of the iceberg. There's no way car companies are anywhere near as good as technology companies when it comes to security, and the list of fixes in each Android/iOS/Windows update shows even these "experts" leave a lot to be desired on that front.

  14. The Force

    Product Boxes, and Web Sales should show Auto EOS at time of Purchase

    What does not help is the large high street stores are still selling models that are getting short on support life without highlighting this.

    Example PCWorld have ACER 14 CB3-431 on sale for £179 its Auto EOS is June 2021 - so less than 2 years. Its also available on Amazon for the same price, neither highlight short support life, though at least on Amazon you can see its been for sale for more than three years, but again if you did not know of the Auto Update expiry you would be in the dark.

    For the savvy the resources are out there to check so you only buy one with a long support life, the information should be available for all, seeing as they decide the EOS date at build time the boxes should come with EOS date, which could mean some real bargains on kit with 2 years support left on them, or sale prices on those with longer life as retailers make sure they shift them before nobody wants them anymore.

    I found out mine hit EOS when I had had it for just shy of five years, in which time it had required a new battery (HP Pavilion with external battery) it had cost £200 and I had not expected it to have lasted much beyond that anyway

    Its easy to find the dates - if you know they have set Auto update EOS .... its being obvious to all with clearly marked EOS - like a Best Before Date when you buy food.

  15. SVV

    Google support "lifetimes"

    Seem to be suspiciously close to the maximum expected lifespan of the sealed in, non replaceable batteries in their devices. Yes, I know they still work if you plug them in, but the whole point is that they're meant to be easily portable. I suggest checking this support date before you buy, as an owner of one utterly dead Nexus tablet.

  16. darren1

    You can install Cloudready afterwards for a near Chrome OS experience. https://neverware.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/360016153813--Guide-Installing-CloudReady-in-a-ChromeBook

    One of the drawbacks is no Android app support, but one possible plus is Crostini linux support on some devices Google don't support due to the newer kernel.

  17. jason 7

    Not so fast.

    Just powered up my little 11" Samsung I bought in 2012.

    Still getting updates.

    I would point out it cost £200! Sweated that asset.

  18. karlkarl Silver badge

    Wait, don't you guys update your computers yourself?

    Install a real operating system on it and then one of these.

    # apt-get upgrade

    # yum update

    # pkg upgrade

    ... etc

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Wait, don't you guys update your computers yourself?

      Your average Reg reader can, yes.

      Personally, I really try to avoid any It gear that with a locked on or otherwise pre-installed OS.

      We just like to be bitter about IT companies fleecing the average non-techie punter.

      Personally, I live my life by the same motto as the alcoholic from Mr Jolly Lives Next Door

      "Never ever, bloody anything, ever."

  19. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I have never used a Chromebook but I was under the impression it was a basic Linux Kernel that pretty much just ran the Chrome browser on top. So I see no technical reason why Google should not be able to support it for quite a lot longer than 6 years.

    I am typing this on a Dell laptop from 2008 and is able to run Linux Mint 18 and Chrome and still gives a reasonable user experience.

  20. JLV

    Good article. I’ve been sour on Google devices ever since my Nexus 5, for precisely that reason. I don’t expect eternal support - chipsets and systems do eventually just fade into irrelevance.

    But Google’s semi-hidden “x years security support from when put into market on date y”, where x is short and y is further back than you might think when you’re paying for your new kit is an abomination to modern long-lasting hardware.

    We can have different debates about privacy, ads, and their online services. But, IMHO, Google is not a good faith hardware and OS vendor and will not be until they fix this issue.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Since my 2011 MacaBook Air still runs perfectly well and gets updates

    I think my initial gut response to this article is pretty justified. Cheeky fuckers.

  22. redpawn Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    When All Your Data is Not Enough

    Google has access to ALL of your data, but I guess that is not enough. I'm betting the new hardware is better able to collect information on you and make them even more money. Besides old hardware makes Google look shabby, shiny and new is their image.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: When All Your Data is Not Enough

      Google has access to ALL of your data

      Not mine - DuckDuckGo for search, Google Analytics blocked by NoScript and limits put on connections to the Googleplex on my phone.

      Sure, they probably still get some but no-where as much as they think they should.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They are probably doing this due to the eductional market

    This way they can get schools to buy new ones every few years instead of using them for a decade where Google doesn't get to give them faster CPUs necessary to deliver more ads with.

  24. steviebuk Silver badge

    Ironic....

    ...considering their annoying "Chromebooks come with anti-virus builtin" bullshit and misleading adverts recently.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Keep calm and just install something else

    Can't believe all the angst here, thought The Register was a tech site, I found my little Acer Chromebook to be one of my favourite machines and only €350 ish to begin with, had it a couple of years and still got till June 2021 before Google withdraws support, when that happens will probably just install something else if I get nervy about no updates on Chrome.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Keep calm and just install something else

      It is a tech site. That's why we know about the potential problems with no security updates, and why we aren't happy to see this being sold to unsuspecting purchasers, both technical and nontechnical. And maybe we can install something, but there are lots of points to consider about that:

      1. Some may be locked down or lack driver support for anything other than Chrome OS. So in that case, we can't.

      2. Some may lack the specifications to run anything else (E.G. really tiny storage). The purchaser probably doesn't care because they just wanted to run Chrome OS, but it would prevent a useful installation of something else. If this specification limit was the reason for dropping support, I'd drop my objection, but it's clearly not.

      3. Maybe the thing to replace Chrome OS doesn't work as well for the intended purpose. For people like us, a full Linux installation would probably be much more useful. For someone else, the lack of any complexity in Chrome OS might have been a selling point. They chose to buy the device because of (or in my mind in spite of) the OS, so it stands to reason that they probably want to keep it. This especially applies to schools; they need laptops that can run a browser and are cheap enough that they can be replaced. Of course they could do that with a Linux distro running on that or similar hardware, but that requires a Linux admin who they'd have to pay. The selling point of these that got them adopted in so many schools was that you didn't need to spend as much time on administration. It turns out you have to spend that in money for new hardware that doesn't provide you any benefits.

      4. There is no good technical reason for dropping support like this. If they released a new version of the OS and said "Sorry to any chromebook users still stuck with 16 GB of storage, but we'll need some more for this version. We'll give you security updates for this version for a bit longer, but you will probably want to buy a new one or expand the storage if possible eventually", I wouldn't complain. If they released new versions that need more processing so they run slowly on old hardware, I'd complain about poor coding practices but they would have no policy complaints from me. But they're not doing that; they're setting a death date for the devices and then cutting them off at that point for no good reason.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Keep calm and just install something else

        Nothing is supported for ever:

        https://hackaday.com/2019/08/23/modern-linux-runs-on-ancient-toshiba/

        What, Microsoft aren’t producing updates for their older operating systems? How dare they!

        Apple is the same.

        In the real world realistically a device is good for 3-4 years tops, companies support past that usually have a customer base to justify it, past that it’s usually down to enthusiasts.

        Professional programmers (as in make money from it ) usually want to work with current technology not yesterday’s news so getting people to do this becomes more difficult, also asking businesses to spend money on support a rapidly diminishing group of users is asking a lot in today’s harsh commercial environment, also hardware falls rapidly behind as it ages, which can mean supporting multiple branches of an os.

        Non technical users?, the number of perfectly good, but virus infected systems I’ve rescued for people about to send them to the local dump as they are “broken” leads me to suspect the same will happen here with machines being sold or dumped, or they just carry on using them, no different to the multitude of Windows pc’s running unprotected, and at least Chrome is a lot better in this respect than Windows.

        There are Linux alternatives to Chrome even if Google don’t change their minds, this doesn’t deserve hysteria or panic, install something like Gallium and move on.

  26. ultenhiemer

    Wow... F*ck ever buying Chromebook!

    I read an article the other day about Chromebook Vs Windows and which is better to buy. Even they said Chromebook should be avoided if you want to do more than just browse and Netflix... This just goes to solidify that position.

    Whilst I do understand that OS' do have an end date, they can't be expected to last forever. At least Windows provide support for a very long time. This seems like a cruel decision of Google to limit support to machines... They just want you to buy new machines all the time afterall.

    I kinda support piracy in this regard... What if you bought a machine just before it gets discontinued with little AUE left. You'd then obviously want to crack that machine to continue to get updates.

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Wow... F*ck ever buying Chromebook!

      Cracking your own hardware to install something else on it has nothing to do with piracy. Nothing.

  27. shanklin

    GalliumOS, linux for Chromebooks.

    Installed it on an old C720 Chromebook and runs like a champ, so no out of date worries.

    It sits on the kitchen counter to bring up recipe's or videos or whatever else while cooking.

    1. e^iπ+1=0

      GalliumOS

      How does GalliumOS on a Chromebook compare to having my Linux distro of choice installed on a computer originally sold with Windows (what I do currently)?

      What are the pros and cons of buying a Chromebook as opposed to a Windows PC if I'm just going to wipe the OS and install Linux?

      1. Joe Montana

        Re: GalliumOS

        ChromeOS is linux, so if a device was meant to run chrome then it must have linux drivers for all the hardware. Laptops meant to run windows might not, and often things like the audio or video chipset arent quite standard and have custom windows drivers - and dont work with the standard windows drivers, or the linux drivers.

        Also chromebooks are often cheaper.

  28. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    FAIL

    "Auto Update Expiration (AUE) Date"

    To me that "auto" would suggest it will stop automatically updating but some manual way of updating would still be available.

    If not, it seems a misrepresentation to describe it as they have.

    On the plus-side it means we might see a lot of 'won't update' Chromebooks going for peanuts which the more geek-inclined will be able to find something to do with.

    1. wayne 8

      Re: "Auto Update Expiration (AUE) Date"

      My take is development for aged out hardware will cease to be monetized.

      Do Chrome books allow for manual updates?

      Seems the IPCC might want to discuss Google's planned wasteful carbon footprint.

  29. JohnSheeran

    OK, so, don't buy a Chromebook......

    ....CHECK

  30. YARR

    Linux kernel licensing rules

    ... perhaps it's time to update them to ensure upgrades are available to all if they available at all? i.e. copyleft-ing

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google crap

    Microsoft's operating systems, continuing the policy of five years of mainstream support and 10 years of extended support. Mainstream support for Windows 10 will continue until Oct. 13, 2020, and extended support ends on Oct. 14, 2025.

    support = OS updates

    extend support = bug/security fixes

    I was going to create a word crapula to describe Chrome, but it’s already a word.

    Noun. crapula (plural crapulas) (obsolete) Sickness or indisposition caused by excessive eating or drinking.

    Kind of works. If you buy a Chrome machine you’re probably suffering mental impairment from excessive drinking.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the price is too good to be true, then we have another reason to be wary; not that I would ever buy a chromebook, but heck, you spend 159 at Walmart, you get what you paid for.

  33. Trey Pattillo

    Have great memory

    But what is the Googly you speak of.

    Dumped them from the desktop long ago.

    Disabled [stopped] everything on phone that can be removed/stopped.

    Alphabet is the evil one, so that Google can claim immunity.

  34. wayne 8

    Basically Chrome laptops are disposable like Android smartphones.

    Basically Chrome laptops are disposable like Android smartphones. $$$.

    Never ever thought about purchasing a Chrome laptop nor of using the Chrome browser.

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Basically Chrome laptops are disposable like Android smartphones.

      Going on a holiday with my Android phone, it sort of went batsh*t crazy about suggesting things I should do, and places to go, sucking up battery like there was no tomorrow. Well there was no tomorrow, or even tonight, for the phone unless frequently charged.

  35. button pusher
    Coat

    YES BUT

    I use chromebooks for out of office work, and so do other family members. The difference between my chromebook that has just expired and 'modern' chromebooks is the spec - CBs bought 5 years ago use old processors and only have small SSDs, meaning that they can't run modern CROS features such as linux. That being said, Google does support the Asus Flip C100PA which has been around longer than my old CB, with worse specs, presumably because more users still login with it. Higher spec CBs are likely to remain useful for longer, which means that there are options for installing another OS afterwards

    I have since bought several other CBs for self & family, always checking the auto update expiry date before purchasing. I still have the PCs/Mac for 'serious' work, but wouldn't take them to a coffee shop...

  36. DrBed
    Linux

    In other news, Google is providing Linux "kernelnext" for older Chromebooks

    Despite the BoJo mess and adaptation to inevitable incoming of new covfefe reality, I've expected less chlorinated articles at El Reg.

    "Google has been hard at work on a project called “kernelnext,” which seems poised to update the Linux kernel of certain devices, starting with the 2015 Chromebook Pixel ... (and) eight other Chrome OS devices" (Aug. 12th 2019)

    https://9to5google.com/2019/08/12/chromebook-pixel-2015-more-linux-apps/

    Somehow, not a word about it at The Register.

    It means, beside other things, that some happy owners will enjoy using brand new Android Studio 3.5 that is heavily optimized to work at chromebooks, even 4 years old.

    Unfortunately, this possibility is barely mentioned at El Reg (only: "ton of interesting stuff here, not least official support for developing on Chrome OS. Running the IDE on Google's OS requires installing Linux, which then lives in a sandbox."):

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/08/21/google_releases_android_studio_35/

    Mind you: Android Studio, NOT Visual Studio (although Visual Studio Code should work too!) - ask Mr. Woodward for clarification. :D Because, Martin Woodward is not just a "Vice President of the .NET Foundation", he is also a "Principal Group Program Manager on the Azure DevOps team" (FYI: "Azure DevOps" is MS Visual Studio @ MS Azure, as SaaS)...

    Yep, same Martin the informer.

    Martin, who is main "responsible for the tools that Microsoft use to ship stuff ... to Android apps", so much so that "scale sometimes blows his mind". His words, his own tweet, this month: https://twitter.com/martinwoodward/status/1156848870762131456

    Instead of those great news (kernelnext & ASv3.5), after 10 days of silence: "Google provides each new hardware platform with 6.5 years of Auto Update support", but Martin's Dad "bought new less than 3 years ago that it is now out of support" (tweet from Aug. 20th 2019)... major concern ftom relevant source.

    "veep of the Microsoft-supported .NET Foundation, though THAT IS NOT RELEVANT HERE". I bet it is not. Nor that he is *THE* head of SaaS MS Visual Studio division. I bet his Dad is still happy with his Windows RT Surface, because it is "2020 ready" for sure. I believe that Martin is still working on his Windows 10S Continuum edition Surface from last year. Including MS Visual Studio. Sure. (FYI: UWP Visual Studio does not exist nor will ever be).

  37. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    This must be a really good thing for our planet!

    If only someone with a bit of clout could put a stop to this. Someone like EU.

  38. Conundrum1885

    Re. In other news, Google is providing Linux "kernelnext" for older Chromebooks

    Incidentally if the developers are reading this PLEASE add external HDD and ODD support.

    It really sucks that the device has a USB3 port yet will not work with even a low power 418mA drive.

    I did some tests and yes it should work though believe there are licensing problems with DVD playback however the workaround is to have the appropriate update issued at a fixed cost similar to rPi MPx keys.

    Also things to add: battery diagnostics.

  39. Jeff 11

    The idea that the consumer is no worse off when updates stop is fatuous at best. A Chromebook is by definition designed to work fully only when connected to the internet, which today is a very hostile environment. Patches are *required* to keep a Chromebook working correctly in that environment, and withdrawing that support at some unspecified point in the future gives it a variable useful lifetime.

    When patches stop, that device becomes fundamentally less useful because it will start to exhibit failures related to the environment for which it is designed. Yes, you can install another OS on it, but that changes the nature of the device into something like every other laptop, prone to viruses etc - which it is sold as being a secure alternative to.

    Of course, the support is provided by Google and the hardware by ASUS or whoever, and consumer law won’t help you because the retailer and manufacturer is fundamentally not involved in that.

    I too think it’s revolting that hardware cycles encourage such wastefulness, but I think even regulations are unlikely to make the situation any better. Mandating that devices have software support for 10 years from date of purchase will just lead to the industry sidestepping their obligations, like delegating support to a subsidiary they can just shut down, delaying patches indefinitely, or deciding that vulnerabilities don’t necessitate patches.

  40. TheGriz

    Why Are These People Buying a ChromeBook in the first place, that was their first mistake.

    Title says it all. :)

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Pity the planet

    So Google are building hardware that has to be discarded after max 6 years. What happened to don't be evil?

  42. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Why is the expiry date not printed on the box?

    'Cos munneeee!

  43. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    According to the CrOS table, codename "snappy" is HP Chromebook 11 G6 EE, HP Chromebook 14 G5 on HP Chromebook x360 11 G1 EE. In fact it's what came on my Dell Inspiron 3181, a model not listed by Google on their support pages. So I guess AUE will just have to come as a lovely surprise.

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