Google will prolong the life of its Chromebooks by permitting the devices — which are popular with K-12 schools — to get automatic updates for up to 10 years.
The recent announcement comes after pushback earlier this year about Chromebooks not being environmentally or financially sustainable for schools given their average four-year lifespan tied to limited software updates.
The change is to take effect in 2024. Chromebooks released in 2021 and thereafter will automatically update for 10 years. For models that predated 2021, Google said users and IT admins will have the option to transition to a longer automatic updating process.
Google's move appears to show it is listening to calls from advocates such as the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, which released a report in April that found doubling Chromebook lifespans could save U.S. schools $1.8 billion.
Lengthening the time Chromebook software updates are good for could also significantly reduce the devices’ environmental impact, the PIRG Education Fund said. For instance, the group said doubling the lifespans of just the Chromebooks sold in 2020 could cut carbon emissions at a level equal to removing 900,000 cars from the road for one year.
Focus is shifting on school devices’ financial and environmental sustainability as 1:1 device programs have increasingly become the norm for school districts, particularly after COVID-19 forced schools to temporarily pivot to full-time remote learning.
Google added that beyond extending Chromebooks’ lifespans through extending software updates, it’s working to build the devices with more recyclable materials and roll out new power-efficient features and faster repair methods.