Chrome OS and the browser to separate – Safe browsing after AUE date

By - Dan Millward

Updated -

One of the biggest issues people have about Chrome OS is the auto-update expiration policy. Also known as the Auto Update Expiry (AUE) date. I’ve written many articles about the AUE Date on the Chromebook. Mainly stating that the AUE date isn’t as bad as people may think.

While I understand why the AUE date is needed. I also get the other side of the argument. Essentially, Chrome OS is so good that even if you’ve owned a Chromebook for eight years. It will still work as it did when you first bought it. This means many people still own their Chromebook after the AUE date has expired. All Chromebooks released today have eight years of updates.

The news that Chrome OS and the browser will soon separate is great news. It will put an end to the issue of people feeling unsafe to browse the internet once they stop receiving updates to Chrome OS. The good news is, I think I have a date of when this will happen. I’ll explain why I’ve come to this conclusion. First of all, I’ll explain the AUE Date and what it means.

What is the AUE Date

All Chromebooks and Chromeboxes and any other computer that runs Chrome OS will come with an AUE date. Once this date has expired your Chromebook will no longer receive updates of Chrome OS. Chrome OS currently gets updated every six weeks. These updates not only include new functionality of the operating system. They also include vital security updates.

This means once your Chromebook’s AUE date has expired. You’ll no longer receive any future changes to the operating system. More importantly, it also means you’ll not receive security updates. Many of the updates are around keeping you safe when surfing online. This means they are mainly linked to the Chrome Browser.

Why the AUE date exists

To ensure Chrome OS is continuing to advance and not held back. It’s simply not possible for the developers to bring out new functionality that will work will older devices. This makes perfect sense. Newer Chromebooks will use the latest processors and the changes made to these mean they offer better performance.

If you have a Chromebook, which is more than eight years old. You can imagine how out of date the processor will be. Security isn’t just about software. Processors play a big part in security. Security flaws can be found in hardware such as processors. Once they are found future processors are fixed to deal with these flaws.

Therefore, to keep Chrome OS safe and to offer the very latest functionality. It’s vital for Chrome OS to stop sending updates to older computers. If this did not happen. It would mean Chrome OS would not be able to offer the latest advances for newer computers. Essentially, they would be held back by people who own laptops they bought many years previously.

How Chrome OS is currently setup

At the moment Chrome OS and the Chrome browser it uses are tightly interlinked with each other. The total opposite to how the Chrome Browser works on other computers such as Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac. On these computers, the Chrome browser is downloaded by the user and runs independently from the operating system.

This means if Google needs to update the Chrome Browser for MS Windows. It can simply update the browser with the latest security patches. It does not need to worry too much about the operating system used.

The total opposite of how Chrome OS works where it’s tightly integrated with the Chrome Browser. You cannot update the Chrome Browser without updating Chrome OS.

Chrome OS and Chrome Browser updates

The Chrome browser, which people can download when using other operating systems receives updates every four weeks. This is to ensure Google can deal with any known vulnerabilities. This helps to keep people safe when surfing online.

These same vulnerabilities for Chrome OS are dealt with when the operating system is updated. Chrome OS receives updates every six weeks. Therefore, they are out of sync with each other. There may have been a good reason for this. However, this is soon about to change.

Chrome OS currently receives updates between the scheduled six-week update. This happens when security flaws are spotted and need immediate attention.

We will not see a Chrome OS 95

At the time of writing this article. The Chrome OS operating system is on version 94. The next logical step would be 95. However, this will be skipped and the next Chrome OS version will be 96. This is to put the Chrome OS updates in sync with the Chrome Browser updates.

Chrome OS 94 shown on the about page in settings
Chrome OS 94 is the current version

If you’re currently using Windows, Apple Mac, Linux, or Android. The Chrome Browser you’ll be using is Chrome 95. This is out of sync with the current Chrome OS 94. Therefore, Chrome OS 95 will be skipped and it will be updated to Chrome OS 96 at the same time as the Chrome Browser. Essentially, all operating systems will then be running 96 and the Chrome OS version will also be 96.

Chrome OS updates to happen every four weeks

Once we reach Chrome OS 96 and Chrome browser 96. Chrome OS will start to receive updates every four weeks just like the Chrome Browser does currently. This means both Chrome OS and the browser will stay in sync.

Once this has taken place it will be much easier for Google to look at separating the browser from Chrome OS. It’s the logical step before separating Chrome OS and the browser you use when using your Chromebook.

The Lacros browser

When Chrome OS and the browser are separated. The Chromebook will need a browser to use on your Chrome OS computer. This browser is Lacros, which stands for Linux and Chrome OS. This browser is the Chrome Browser for Linux. Stands to sense that Google would use the Linux version because Chrome OS is based on a Linux kernal.

If the Chrome browser is no longer integrated with Chrome OS. Then the browser needs to be linked to another operating system. Because you can now use Linux programs on Chrome OS. It’s the perfect marriage for the browser used on Chromebooks in the future to be based on the Chrome browser downloaded by Linux users.

The Chrome OS Linux browser

Once the separation of Chrome OS and the browser has taken place. The browser you’ll use on your Chromebook will be Linux-based. This means the browser will receive updates every four weeks. This will allow the Chrome browser developers to deal with any known flaws.

Because the browser will no longer be integrated with Chrome OS. It means you don’t need to worry if your computer is no longer receiving updates for Chrome OS. You’ll still be able to surf online safely because the browser is still receiving security updates.

Chrome OS 99 or 100

I have a theory that this will take place when we reach the Chrome OS 99 or 100 update. It’s highly unlikely Google would separate them immediately. At the moment the browser and Chrome OS are closely integrated. It will take time for the developers to ensure everything is taken care of. This means we may see a separation in February or March 2022.

At the moment some of the settings you have with your Chrome browser are linked to Chrome OS. All of these links need to be addressed so the settings work independently. This means we’ll most likely see some changes in how you do certain things on your Chrome OS computer in the future.

Is this definitely happening

Chrome OS and the browser will be separated. However, when this will happen is not yet known. I’ve got an idea of when this will take place, which is February or March 2022. However, this is just a theory I’ve come up with, and it’s not a definite date.

That being said, if you look at it logically and all the changes that are happening. I would be surprised if we don’t see this happen around the dates I’ve suggested. It may even happen earlier, but I can’t imagine Google is in a rush. I’m sure they would rather take their time and get it right.

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