Earlier this year, we learned Chromebooks have an expiration date that indicates when they'll stop receiving software and security updates. At the time, the only way to determine when a laptop or tablet would stop receiving support was to look up the specific model number on Google's exhaustive support page.
Now there is a much easier way. Google recently updated Chrome OS to show the date on which a Chromebook will no longer receive software support. The information was quietly added last month to Chrome OS' main settings page under the "About Chrome OS" tab.
To access settings on a Chromebook, open the system tray and press on the Settings app icon or type chrome://settings into the omnibox, or address bar.
When you're there, you'll see a block titled "Update schedule" and under it, "This device will get automatic software and security update until [month] [year]"
That date isn't random. Google provides new hardware with 6.5 years of auto-update support, according to The Register. While that sounds like a good amount of time, the countdown begins "when the first device on the platform is released." This could be particularly problematic for certain budget Chromebooks as some models remain on the market for several years.
Google's own support page states that if a vendor releases a laptop on a "1-year-old hardware platform" then the device will have only 5.5 years of auto-update support remaining. Because of this, it's still important to look up a model on Google's website before you buy it, because, of course, you can't use this new settings tool without having the laptop on-hand.
For those who already own a Chromebook, be sure to update your device to the latest version of Chrome OS in order to see the expiry date in settings. When your laptop runs out of support, it will still operate but not receive the latest security updates, so use it at your own risk.