Many of the Chromebooks purchased by schools after COVID-19 are now approaching their end of life. | KonstantinSavusia/Shutterstock

Google will now provide a decade of automatic software updates for Chromebooks, a move that will allow refurbishers to resell computers that would otherwise be destroyed for commodities recovery.

The tech giant on Sept. 14 announced it would provide automatic software updates for 10 years for Chromebooks, which are heavily used by school districts. The change could enable more resale of the relatively low-value computer, or it could allow school districts to keep them in use longer. 

After a spike in purchasing took place immediately after COVID-19 struck, millions of Chromebooks are now coming off-line. 

Industry leaders have told E-Scrap News that the end of software support often relegates Chromebooks to commodities recovery, when they otherwise could be resold. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) earlier this year published a report calling on Google to extend the Automatic Update Expiration dates to at least a decade. 

Google has previously rolled out Chrome OS Flex, a cloud-based operating system that can help extend the lives of older devices. 

With the latest announcement, the company said that, starting next year, it would extend the time frame for automatic updates, which occur every four weeks and provide “enhanced security, stability and features.” 

The Wall Street Journal reported on the latest announcement and its implications. 

Repair announcement

Google also said it would make updates allowing authorized repair centers and school technicians to repair Chromebook with a physical USB key. 

“This reduces the time required for software repairs by over 50% and limits time away from the classroom,” the announcement stated. 

Over 80% of U.S. schools that participated in a recent Google survey indicated they repair at least some of their Chromebooks in house. 

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