Five years into the Chromebook 'experiment' Google has more than proved that its web browser based platform can compete against traditional devices, having outsold OS X and Linux in the US last quarter to become the second best selling platform.
However there is the question of long-term support to consider now, as the first batches of third-party Chromebooks start to bump up against Google's five year support cycle. Those early machines will shortly stop getting updates from Google, although they will continue to work. Will this still be the case if a high impact security risk is uncovered though? Google has the ability to shut down these machines permanently, what will happen when it has the motivation too, I wonder?
How does this compare with Microsoft and Apple? Pretty poorly actually. At five years old my MacBook Air is running the latest version of OS X whilst my Acer Timeline, which is approaching six years old, received Windows 10, and continues to see updates along with every other Windows 10 machine.
Lest we forget, Microsoft supported Windows XP for over a decade.
Now in Google's defence Chromebooks live at the bottom end of the market and as a result the support expectations should be managed accordingly. However it seems that the very nature of Chrome as an operating system should mean that a Chromebook can continue to receive updates up until the point where the hardware demands a performance compromise that owners aren't prepared to tolerate.
In any case security updates should be a given.
Still, if you compare it to the lash up that is the Android update programme, owners can probably consider five years of easy, painless updates something of a win...