What happened to the Chrome OS 96 update for Chromebooks?


I had hoped that by now I would have posted my typical “what you need to know” post about the latest Chrome OS update. After all, the Chrome OS 96 update for Chromebooks went live on November 30, almost two weeks ago. For now, it’s nowhere to be found for Chromebooks that didn’t get it while it was briefly available.

In fact, if you look at the latest news from Google, the most recent version of Stable Channel available is for Chrome OS 94. This minor update to the full launch of Chrome OS 94 was released on November 13.

So what gives here?

I don’t have any in-depth knowledge, but I ran a query to see how many issues or open bugs there were marked with the update to Chrome OS 96. I found 67 Chrome specific in total, which was more than I expected. Unfortunately, digging through the list, I’m still stumped on the show-stopper here.

The only other clue regarding the heist seems to be in the Google Chromebook help forum, regarding a report that Android apps are not loading. This was reported on December 2 and received this official response six days later:

Thank you again for taking the time to bring to our attention this inability to launch applications after updating to M96. Our team is aware of this and is working quickly to resolve this issue.

A similar report in the Chrome OS Reddit forums on December 1 received the same response from Google. And in this forum, I see a user reporting that “With the recent 96 updates, on my Duet, the Play Store itself has stopped working.”

Well, that’s never a good sign.

Unfortunately, outside of the forum responses, I haven’t seen any other communication from Google about the issue. And it just shouldn’t be. Also, keep in mind that the Chrome OS 96 update is the first in this new world of a four-week Chrome OS software update cycle. We skipped Chrome OS 95 to sync the platform with the Chrome browser.

For managed Chromebooks, this is less of a potential issue. Chrome OS admins can centrally block the deployment of software updates to their organization’s Chromebooks. (I hope they did)

And, starting with this release, organizations using Chrome OS Enterprise can opt for an LTS or Long Term Support channel. This means their devices only receive important (read: large) updates every six months. So even if they will miss some of the latest features of Chrome OS, they will gain system stability.

Whatever the issue, hopefully we’ll hear something more official soon. You cannot radio silently on a desktop operating system when trying to increase its footprint. And that brings me back to some features of Chrome OS Enterprise that are offered to everyday Chromebook users: Specifically, I would like users to have more control over Chrome OS updates on their own devices.

Before I forget, if you got Chrome OS 96 and you are having major issues, you can find and download the official Chrome OS 94 recovery image for your device here. Just make sure to download the file for your specific device and remember that going back to an older version of Chrome OS will completely erase your local data.

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