Warning : Be careful when purchasing a ChromeOS device during a Black Friday Sale
Black Friday sales are notorious for offering incredible deals on various tech products, including Chromebooks. While these deals may seem tempting, it's crucial to exercise caution when purchasing a ChromeOS device during this time. Many of these devices may have been sitting on the shelves for several years, potentially falling outside the window where Google provides OTA (Over-The-Air)/Auto-Update Expiration (AUE) updates.
During Black Friday sales, retailers often offer significant discounts on Chromebooks to attract customers. While these deals can be enticing, it's essential to consider the age of the device being sold. Some of these discounted ChromeOS devices may have been sitting on store shelves for an extended period, potentially surpassing the update window provided by Google. These devices are of course marketed as "New" but while they have never been owned by a previous customer, many of them have sat in a warehouse for the past 7 years.
Purchasing a Chromebook that is no longer receiving OTA updates can have several implications. Firstly, it means missing out on crucial security patches that protect against emerging threats. As technology evolves, so do the tactics used by hackers and cybercriminals. Without regular updates, your device may become more vulnerable to security breaches.
Additionally, being outside the update window may result in missing out on new features and improvements introduced by Google. These updates often enhance the user experience, introduce new functionalities, and optimize performance. By purchasing an older ChromeOS device, you may be limiting your ability to enjoy the latest advancements in the operating system.
Lastly, the other risk with purchasing a Chromebook that has reached its auto-update expiration (AUE) is that it may stop supporting future forms of DRM such as Widevine. Widevine is used by websites like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, GoogleTV and many more streaming media sites. Much like most pieces of software, Widevine is constantly being updated, and over time, websites will sunset support for older versions of Widevine. One of the massive downsides of ChromeOS vs. other operating systems on the market is that Widevine is currently installed as part of the core operating system, which means it will stop getting updates when the device hits the auto-update expiration (AUE) date (This is less of a problem with devices that use Lacros, but this is only for newer Chromebooks).
With that all said, there may be reasons why you might actually WANT a Chromebook that is past its auto-update expiration (AUE), specifically if you choose to install a different Linux distribution on the device or want an inexpensive device to use for some very basic tasks. While Black Friday sales can be an excellent opportunity to grab a bargain, it's important to be cautious when purchasing a ChromeOS device. Take the time to research the specific model you're interested in and verify its update status. I will, of course, publish a blog post around Black Friday with the best deals I can find, as well as use that blog post to provide some transparency to help ensure that the device falls within the window where Google provides OTA updates to guarantee a secure and up-to-date experience. You are also free to take a look at the ChromeOS.Guide Devices Listing to see if a device is supported or if it is past its AUE date.