There are so many options when it comes to buying a new computer these days. Should you go with an old school desktop, a touchscreen all-in-one, a laptop, or would a tablet handle all of your needs? Click here to read our story on buying a new computer to help make your decision.
One popular option is the Google Chromebook. These are sub $250-laptops that run Google's Chrome OS, which is an operating system version of the popular Chrome browser. However, there is a downfall to buying one that you need to know.
Chrome OS works similarly to Windows with a start button, taskbar and apps, so you can pick it up quickly. Most of the time, it's as easy to use as a standard web browser. Plus, it can do many of the same things other operating systems can do, like video chat, play music, print documents and play games.
Chromebooks are designed to last a very long time, making it a popular item. In the first quarter of 2016, Chromebooks outsold Apple's Macs for the first time ever in the U.S. Nearly 2 million were sold during that timeframe.
Unfortunately, Google has an End of Life policy that could make your Chromebook obsolete. The policy states, "When a device reaches End of Life (EOL), it means that the product model is considered obsolete and automatic software updates from Google are no longer guaranteed."
The tech giant says Chrome OS devices along with Chromebooks are only guaranteed to receive five years of support. Those devices could stop receiving security and feature updates at that point. That's pretty serious considering Google will not guarantee that unsupported systems will run properly or safely.
You should get a notification on your Chromebook when it stops receiving updates. Due to security risks, Google says it would be a good idea to replace your Chromebook with a new one at that time. Once you stop getting security updates, your system is susceptible to exploits that are not patched.
One thing people don't often realize is that this End of Life date does not begin on the date you purchase your laptop. It actually begins on the date the laptop was manufactured.
Samsung's Series 5, for example, was released in 2010 and will no longer be receiving any additional updates. The Acer AC700 has also hit its End of Life date this month.
Other models you might want to avoid buying are the Acer C7 and the ASUS Nexus 7, which have End of Life dates approaching in 2017.
It is possible that this policy will change in the future. Google says it's working with its partners, trying to update policies that would allow them to extend updates past the EOL date. Until then, you can keep an eye on Google's End of Life policy page to see if your gadget is on the list.