While the best Chromebooks hold up for a number of years, they eventually stop receiving OS updates. When that happens, the laptops become less and less secure as the built-in Chrome browser is also dependent on those updates for both new features and, more importantly, security patches.
Some digging by 9to5Google into the Chrome code uncovered evidence that Google may be taking a page out of its Android playbook to solve this problem, and dramatically extend the safe and useful life of Chromebooks.
- The best Chromebooks in 2020
- The best cheap Chromebook deals in April 2020
- What is a Chromebook? Buying guide and advice
Google is expected to separate out the Chrome browser currently built into Chrome OS and make it a standalone app, exactly as it is on other platforms. This is how Google continues support for Android devices well beyond the date that they stop receiving major OS updates.
The evidence was found by 9to5Google following the discovery of a new flag added to chrome://flags, called "LaCrOS support." This, in turn, led them to a conversation between two developers that mentioned LaCrOS being designed to "make chrome-for-chromeos more like chrome for other systems, where we ship a binary for that os build like we (browser team) want, independent of the toolchain of the os."
To clarify, this would mean that the Chrome browser on your Chromebook would receive regular security and feature updates for presumably years after your Chromebook stops receiving Chrome OS updates.
Chromebooks offer some the best value in laptops; If this change does come to pass, it will be excellent news for Chromebook buyers who will get to enjoy many more years of safe and reliable use.